Overconfidence Can Be Deadly
Distracted driving continues to be a massive problem that affects all drivers of any age. From cell phones, to arguing children in the back seat, to overzealous puppies, anything can be the cause of a momentary distraction that morphs into a lengthy issue. I am afraid of becoming distracted at the wheel and harming other drivers around me or my passengers. After my short but rewarding stint with sailing, I discovered that I could easily fall asleep at the helm even with boat traffic. Knowing this, I am wary of driving a car because I could easily fall asleep or daydream listlessly if I become bored. Therefore, due to my own fear and the lack of need for one, I do not have my license yet. This is not unusual for my generation as shown by the many from my own peer group who are not driving. Many teenagers prefer to use Lyft or Uber rather than spend the little free time they have from homework at driver’s ed. However, for my friends and family that do drive, the issue of having their attention diverted is still prominent. When teenagers start driving, many times they feel as though they are invincible and mostly harmless. This thinking can lead to grievous or trivial oversights. I often assume things happen simply because they should, rather than paying attention and making sure I know my surroundings. While I haven’t driven enough to know if this would carry into my piloting a car, I have caught my assumptions many times in other situations. My mother, on the other hand, is an excellent, if overly-cautious driver. Her caution saved our lives one day after school when a truck ran two red lights at an intersection. Always on the defensive when driving, Momma swerved and corrected her knee-jerk reaction within only a few seconds allowing us to reach the other side of the intersection quickly and with no harm to anyone around us. The tire marks from Momma’s lifesaving swerve were there for weeks, a constant reminder of her well-honed protective instincts and preparedness. This sort of preparedness is developed over years of driving, but that does not make it any less imperative for new and younger drivers. I was very glad to be in the car with her that day because I felt safe. There are already many efforts in place to assure that people do not become distracting when they drive such as the scarring videos shown in driver’s ed classes and the many horror stories every adult has and is willing to share. I have heard my English teacher’s harrowing wreck, my father’s motorcycle accident, and my uncle’s brushes with danger several times over the years. These stories and videos are at least mildly effective as students are more careful when they are learning or beginning. The best way to make others aware of the danger that comes with driving distractedly is to continue treating it with the solemnity the issue deserves. Insuring that a driver understands their own mortality, even though they may feel indomitable, is crucial and I feel that most people do their best to do just that. Most drivers, young and old, know the peril associated with texting, drinking, arguing, and dozing off while driving. However, overconfidence seems to be rarely addressed outside of mothers berating their children for taking turns too quickly and not paying attention to the other cars. It seems to be an old wive’s tale rathaer than something considered thoughtfully and taken to heart. To avoid this, I think that there should be more emphasis placed on not assuming anything from other people on the road and the hazardous, but common, use of knowledge as a crutch rather than observing. I will certainly be very careful to observe what goes on around me while I earn my license and afterwards.
First hand experience is usually the best way to learn something; however, it is unfortunate that I had to learn about distracted driving that way. I was in the vehicle when a distracted driver ran two consecutive red lights and narrowly missed the car I was in. If it weren’t for my mother’s obsessive defensive driving, I most likely wouldn’t be here to apply for this scholarship.