America’s Killer

Alexa T

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Among the top causes of traffic accidents in the United States are speeding, changing lanes too quickly, and failure to stop at lights/stop. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the rates of pedestrian deaths increased by 9%, bicyclist deaths increased by 1.3%, and deaths caused by speeding increased by 4% in 2016. How can we reduce these rates? While some bicyclist and pedestrian deaths more than likely occur from jay walking or being too far in on the side of the road, the rest occur from a driver’s failure to make a complete stop at a stop sign/light or not being attentive to their surroundings. Everyone speeds at one point or another, but some speed more often than not. Some individuals feel that saving those two extra minutes is vital, and others just simply do not have the patience to go the speed limit at all times. There are many ways to avoid these accidents from happening. Leave the house early, give yourself the extra time to get to your destination so you don’t feel that you need to speed to arrive on time. Get yourself situated before taking off, turn off your phone or tell your friends you are about to start driving and will reply once you reach your destination. Get your radio figured out so you don’t fiddle with it while driving, and anything else you need to do so you will not be messing with things while you are driving. Reckless driving is a habit, something people repeatedly do because they have done it enough times to become accustomed to it. What if we could stop this before it became a habit? I feel that certain DMVs have become too lenient during a driver’s test. I personally know a large handful of teenagers who just barely passed their drivers test, and almost all of them have crashed their car or been involved in an accident their first two years. Perhaps our drivers test should be a series of tests, instead of just one short drive. When I had my test, I was asked to back up fifty feet in a straight line, and was mainly tested on how well I could navigate through areas with low amounts of traffic, I never touched the freeway. My ability to drive for, say, the next 60 years, was judged on a test that lasted fifteen minutes. Those who are grading your performance often let many things slide, using the cliche excuse of the driver being “nervous” as a reason for their reckless driving. There is some truth to that, but if our success was determined by the average of a series of tests, perhaps we would see better results. The tests could have the same route, but at different times of day. The route should include both residential areas and freeways, and be driven not just in the morning when tests are currently administered, but also in the evening during times of high traffic. If we can test young drivers in these basic scenarios over and over again, we can correct them when they change lanes incorrectly, and ensure they properly stop at lights/stop signs. While this may not resolve the issue of reckless driving, it can be a start in reducing the rates of accidents caused by it. Works Cited NHTSA. “USDOT Releases 2016 Fatal Traffic Crash Data.” NHTSA, NHTSA, 23 Apr. 2018,