The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

The Student News Site of Fluvanna County High School

The Fluco Beat

New student driver, Emily Graves, ready to hit the road. Photo Courtesy of Emily Graves.
Emily Graves
New student driver, Emily Graves, ready to hit the road. Photo Courtesy of Emily Graves.

Keep Calm and Drive On

Most kids grow up watching others drive from place to place, excitedly waiting for their turn behind the wheel. But when the time comes, many aren’t aware of the real dangers of driving.

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), about 2,800 teens in the United States ages 13–19 died and about 227,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in 2020.

Some teens are not properly prepared to be on the open road, and this can cause them a lot of anxiety during the process of receiving a learner’s permit. Many parents allow their teens to practice driving in a parking lot before letting them on the road. But while this can help them get comfortable with a vehicle, it doesn’t expose the new driver to the actual experience of driving.

So an important step in preparing to drive is to study for the test. It’s a good idea to begin taking practice tests online months before your scheduled DMV test so you’ll know what to expect when taking the actual test. You can find practice tests and other valuable resources teen drivers at the DMV website.

There are two parts to the test, with the first part being the road signs portion. On this portion, you cannot get any questions wrong; if you do, you will not pass the exam. The second part is the actual learner’s permit test. This part is a little more lenient, allowing you to get up to five questions wrong before you fail.

After you have receive your driver’s permit, the real challenge begins. According to the United States Department of Transportation, “Teen drivers have a higher rate of fatal crashes, mainly because of their immaturity, lack of skills, and lack of experience.” So it is important that teens acknowledge the risks of driving and understand the importance of safety.

“Listen to your parents. They have been driving since before you were born, yet most teens act as if they know everything there is to know about driving. If you listen to your parents when they correct you and guide you, you’ll become a better driver and become safer on the road,” said student driver Reagan Wood.

Wood has had her learner’s permit for two months and says she gets lots of practice each day. “As long as I have an adult that I trust and feel comfortable with in the car, I feel comfortable driving,” she said.

Another student driver, Lila Gochenhour, just recently received her learner’s permit. She’s been practicing on back roads in preparation for the more intense roads.

Her advice? “Be patient, don’t get nervous about driving, remember everyone has to start somewhere and it takes time to be good at something. Don’t rush to start driving; build yourself up to the point where you are comfortable on the road,” she said.

Another thing teens should be aware of is how much distractions affect their ability to drive safely. “Dealing with my siblings in the car, they can become a huge distraction,” noted Wood.

While driving, it is important that teens be 100% focused on the road and constantly watching for other drivers. The University of Michigan Health recommends that drivers make all preparations before they take the vehicle out of park. This includes putting on sunglasses, storing loose items, setting the climate controls, radio, and navigational system, and remembering to fasten your seatbelt. They also advise against using any electronic devices while driving, and waiting until the car is stopped to look for any loose items, or change your music settings.

New drivers especially need to remember that they aren’t the only person on the road, and that other drivers are depending on them to follow traffic safety laws to help avoid crashes and fatalities. What can happen on the road is unpredictable. Some things are unavoidable (such as hitting a deer that jumps in front of your car), but it’s up to the driver to do as much as they can to keep their vehicle and passengers safe.

If you prepare well, driving for the first time should be something exciting, not something to dread. If you are properly prepared for the open road, the process of getting that license will be much safer, and you’ll be more relaxed and able to do your best.

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