Better to be safe than sorry

Celine Lopez

Red light. Stop. Green light. Go. Yellow light. Hurry! Speed up to catch the light!

Wait. That’s not right.

Whatever happened to slowing down? It’s become a habit for people to floor the gas pedal when that cursed yellow light appears, nearly running a red light. When they’re too slow and the light turns to the oh-so dreaded red, they curse under their breath, blaming the “slow drivers” in front of them who are actually driving the speed limit.

It feels like almost every day this occurs with my parents behind the wheel, whether we’re running late or not. I admit, I used to not wear my seatbelt for every drive, but the reckless habits of a lot of drivers have given me enough incentive to buckle up.

This shouldn’t be a problem. I shouldn’t have anxiety when driving, especially if I’m not the one behind the wheel. I shouldn’t have to worry that some driver on the road will mess up and cause an accident. I shouldn’t be praying to God, asking to ensure us a safe trip if we’re only driving back home from school.

I want to feel safe. I want to be able to have trust in others’ driving skills, and not have to tighten my seat belt or clutch on the handle for dear life when a city freeway turns into a Daytona race track.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to petition everyone to drive exactly at or even under the speed limit. Then we would never make those lights. But zooming at 50-mph through a 35-mph zone shouldn’t be an acceptable occurrence.

The dangers of speeding have found their way to into the lives of teen drivers. Earlier this month, 17-year old Joseph Rivera, a senior at Bear Creek High School, died in a car crash credited to speeding. The female driver of the SUV, another 17-year old, lost control of the vehicle due to a “high rate of speeding,” causing the vehicle to flip over, says the California Highway Patrol.Rivera, who apparently was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident, was ejected from the vehicle on impact of the crash.

Last year, Paul Walker, lead actor in the “Fast & Furious” franchise, also died in a crash due to speeding. Walker and Roger Rodas, who was driving, were reaching speeds of more than 100 mph. Rodas, the experienced racecar driver and enthusiast, lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a light pole, causing the car to split almost in half.

These observations have helped me realize that the “need for speed” isn’t a need at all. When I start driving, I hope I
will be patient and take a break from our fast-paced society. For now, my experience in Mario Kart and my position as a backseat driver will be fine.