Driven for Safety

Emily M

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I earned my drivers license in the state of California only 8 months ago. In those short months, I have witnessed four deadly crashes occurring only minutes prior to my position, as well as two nonfatal crashes involving my best friends. Although we all watch the catastrophic and sometimes graphic crash movies in drivers education and traffic school, we somehow allow the minute intricacies of our day to day lives to pull a curtain on the trauma we are aware could occur. Sometimes it has to drive a little closer to home. Perhaps the best way to educate our friends, peers, family and neighbors about the real dangers of reckless and distracted driving are not to show them, but to allow them to feel it for themselves. It is statistically shown that those who have been involved in an automobile crash at some point in time are far more likely to avoid a further collusion that those who have never faced the danger. This is not to say it would benefit society to force all new drivers to crash in getting behind the wheel. It is, however, to point of the poignant and real truth that nothing teaches us better than experience. Instead of watching a crash on a screen or watching an informative talk, perhaps there could exist a simulator, that when student drivers had finished driver education, could enter in much like astronauts or pilots routinely perform before a flight. We wouldn’t let an airliner pilot into the sky without simulating flight in a safe environment, so why would we allow such an atrocity for our children, siblings, family members and youth? It would only require a small room, including but not limited to, a virtual reality headset, a car stuck on an unmoved simulator, or any number of possibilities. Perhaps the simulation includes an infant, a brother, sister, child, or friend in the backseat, another life to which the driver is responsible for. As the student performs the simulation, they face messages on their phone, sirens on the street, a radio station they must change, and with that, at some point they face a crash. Bumper to bumper, bumps and bruises, all the trauma and reality of just one second looking away from the wheel and what it might entail. They are no longer simply responsible for the live of themselves. They are responsible for the life of the instructor, perhaps either the infant or friend in the car along with them. The simulation would not end with a car in a ditch on the side of the road and no explanation of what comes next. The driver would have to make the emergency call to parents or the police, being forced to talk to paramedics, face the consequences of fines and payments and liability, of insurance and their own medical situation, and understand that a crash does not end when simply the car ceases movement. As we hope that no driver, young or old, ever has to face this life threatening and terrifying situation, we live in a world where crashes take millions of lives each year due to recklessness or distraction. Despite knowing that many of these did not commit the crash in purposeful vain or pain, we can see the consequences and repercussions on the other side that they themselves did not understand in hind sight. Although emotional and difficult, I believe a life like simulation of the trauma of a crash and the difficulty of sorting through the rubble at the end might teach our youth just what can happen of their moment of weakness, and just exactly what they do have to loose.