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How to: Avoid Car Accidents

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The excitement of receiving a license and being granted the ability to now drive yourself anywhere is hard to beat. In Illinois, after completing a driver’s education course, holding a learner’s permit for nine months, and being at least 16 years old, one is eligible to receive their license. And with many students at Maine West having already met these requirements or currently being in the process of doing so, safety behind the wheel should be a key point of discussion. 

While in the classroom setting, safety behind the wheel is a crucial component of the class, but afterwards, it is up to the driver on how they conduct themselves while in control of their vehicle. All drivers are susceptible to accidents, however, teenagers in the US are involved in fatal car accidents at a rate nearly three times as high as drivers ages 20 and up according to the CDC. “I think teenagers might see it as cool to drive carelessly and don’t realize the harmful effects and consequences it can have,” junior Anna Cengal said. 

Entering a car, whether as a driver or passenger, poses a risk in itself due to the unpredictable actions of others, therefore, it is important when driving to take precautions to make sure you keep yourself and others safe. “The top thing to remember when it comes to driving safely is to always be aware and paying attention to any potential hazards around you,” Officer John Doherty of the Des Plaines Police Department said. 

There are numerous possible distractions that one is at risk to while driving, and being an inexperienced driver, new to the road, can amplify them. “Sometimes kids will have too much on their mind and can’t focus and are distracted in an emotional way, and other times it’s a physical distraction like a phone beeping. We have units on distracted driving and impaired driving to educate students on these things,” Franzen said. Whether it’s the text tone from your phone, a rowdy group of friends in the backseat, or maybe an upcoming math test that is stressing you out, distractions while driving are bound to happen. As a result, it is important that students learn how to avoid these distractions as well as know how to properly handle them. 

Crucial precautions that can be taken, according to the CDC, are always wearing seat belts, keeping phones on silent and out of the driver’s hand so they can keep their focus on the road in front of them, and making sure new drivers are familiar with the vehicle they are in. “Remembering the basic driving rules we were taught, that some people overlook, is really important,” senior Sergey Thomasino said.  

Accidents, however, do occur and knowing how to properly respond to them and act in the situation can create a less chaotic experience. “After being involved in an accident, it’s best to check for injuries and call 911 to have a Police or Fire Department response. If the vehicles are still drivable, find a safe location to pull them off the roadway until police arrive. If the vehicles are not able to be moved off the road, turn on your hazard lights and keep yourself in a safe location out of the street,” Doherty said.

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