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Traffic Talk: New drivers need a sense of responsibility

Don Gammill: Young people: Enjoy your summer break, but don't drive distracted, highway safety officials say.
By DON GAMMILL, Published: June 10, 2013

For most of us, life takes a new direction when we become a legally licensed driver. Add to that the summer break from school when you're young and it's like being set free … with some rules, of course.

You still need to obey the traffic laws. You still need to obey your parents and follow their instructions. You still need to act sensibly and be responsible behind the wheel.

The first two “needs” are legal matters. The third is just what it says: sensible, responsible.

Having more time for being out with your friends can be a big plus, provided you use it wisely and safely.

We all hear suggestions, recommendations, rules and regulations as we move into the world of the motoring public. Those aren't just words. Those are points from experienced individuals. They've been there, done that.

And they'll tell you that paying attention is critical. Distractions are dangerous.

I'll state it very clearly: there weren't as many things competing for my attention when I began driving as the young motorist has today. Yes, there was food in the vehicle, music, talking (often loud talking) and a few other considerations. But we didn't have cellphones, i-this-and-thats, or some of the other things I've seen young people driving around with these days.

As someone who is on the road most every day, I've seen some incredible things. As someone who lives near a high school, I've seen young drivers leaving the campus and traveling through the neighborhood too fast, too erratic. Often, they have an electronic device in their hand.

By the numbers

Now, with summer break here, the amount of young driver traffic has increased significantly, especially with the annual increase in the number of new drivers.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration officials say the number of crashes and related injuries, and fatalities involving teen drivers and passengers are most likely to occur during the summer break, most often between Memorial Day and Labor Day.

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