UPDATED: Jun 9, 2020
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The first ever winner of the AIEZ Driver Safety Scholarship Contest has been chosen, and we are proud to announce that the financial award goes to Crystal Hart of Hampshire, IL. She’ starting her freshman year of college this fall and, based on the quality of her entry, has a promising future.
Crystal’s essay was chosen because it clearly identified a major problem with driver safety in America: the unfortunate lack of mandatory and fully-funded driver education curriculum across the country. Crystal’s common sense solutions are not only easily executable with the right civic action, but show how easily preventable this problem is.
As a nation there are things that our government can do to decrease automobile accidents and increase driver safety. The first thing that the federal government can do is increase spending on nationwide public education. The reason that many schools nowadays are taking drivers education out of their courses and requirements for graduation is because they cannot afford to teach all of these students the bookwork of drivers education and afford the behind the wheel expenses for each student to drive with an instructor. Cutting drivers ed courses to cut spending is quickly moving through high schools across the country. This proves to have detrimental and even deadly effects. When students don’t learn driver’s education at their school then parents are forced to teach their children themselves or send them to take private drivers classes, which are often times too expensive for parents to afford. If the federal government increased money in the nation’s education budget as a whole, schools across the nation would not have to cut driver’s education programs, therefore increasing overall teenage drivers safety. The next thing that the federal government can do to decrease car accidents is increase spending on public works projects for roads and bridges. There is a major problem with traffic congestion on major roads across the united states. Because of the high levels of congestion, car crashes are more common on major roads. If the government spent more money on public works projects to increase the amount of lanes and space on major highways, thereby decreasing congestion, the government would also be decreasing the likelihood of car crashes on those roads.
To increase driver safety states should enforce mandatory driver’s ed courses in both private and public schools. A proper education in driving and road safety is necessary for students to become safe drivers. In order for everyone to have a proper driving education it is something that states must require schools to implement, otherwise as stated above schools will cut these programs to save money. If states don’t want to pass legislation to make driver’s education a requirement then they can do something like have compensation or tax cuts for schools that do implement driver’s education programs. This way instead of these programs being a financial burden for schools, schools actually see these programs as saving them money. School need an incentive to keep costly, non-mandatory programs in place. If states make it known that schools that have drivers education programs are getting more money for having those programs then schools will be less likely to cut driver’s education programs. Something else that states can do to promote driver safety is they can choose to make the minimum age to get a permit at least 15 or 16 years old. There are some states that currently allow 14 year olds to get learners permits. 14 is too young of an age for students to be behind the wheel of a car. It has been statistically proven that with older age comes better driving skills. Simply put 14 year olds are not mature enough to be operating a vehicle. If states raised the age to get a learners permit to 16 years old, because of students maturity, the roads would be all around more safe.
What local governments can do to increase driver safety is they can make sure that all local schools have a thorough driver’s education and behind-the-wheel class implemented in schools. Local governments can also support causes that teach students the importance of not driving while distracted. Cities and towns can help organize assemblies at local high schools to teach students the dangers of distracted driving, texting and driving or driving under the influence. There are various programs that local governments could organize to speak at public schools to help enforce safe driving practices. Local governments can also do things like create their own programs that promote driver’s safety such as raffling off cars to high school students who are safe drivers or something more simple like raffling off the best parking to students who exemplify safe driving practices. Towns and cities can promote driver safety through creation of a scholarship extended to high schools to promote driver safety.
As a young driver I can personally be a safe driver on the road but I can also go out into my community and promote safe driving practices in other teens as well. Being a senior this year I can lead by example and show the other sophomores and juniors the dangers of reckless driving or driving under the influence. I recently participated in a realistic car crash simulation through my high school to demonstrate the real life effects of reckless driving. Continuing to participate in things such as that around my community is how I can promote driver safety. I have pledged to never text and drive and I have stayed true to that pledge and I can continue to push other teens to take the same pledge so that the roads can be safer for all residents.