TEENS: It's Saturday night, and you're out riding around with your friends. You're singing and having a wonderful time. Suddenly, the driver starts speeding. You become nervous, but because no one else is complaining, you decide not to speak up. What you probably don't know is that you're riding in what some insurance companies refer to as the "Death Zone." Between Friday at sundown and Sunday at sundown, more than 59 percent of all teen auto-related deaths occur, and a high percentage of those involve speeding.
According to a Farmers Insurance report, "The equivalent of an entire senior class at a typical high school dies in automobile accidents every 2 to 3 weeks."
And that's not the worst of it! "During the last decade, 74,000 teenage drivers died on U.S. roadways, more than from all diseases combined. Motor vehicle incidents are the No. 1 killer of young Americans, and the sad fact is, these deaths are preventable."
So why are teens involved in so many vehicle accidents and fatal crashes?
A California Department of Motor Vehicles study revealed that the prime reason was that teens speed three times more often than older drivers.
The National Safety Council estimates the financial cost of teenage deaths and injuries at $10 billion annually (in medical and insurance costs, property damage and lost wages).
Closer to home, getting caught speeding can result in a hefty fine, suspension or loss of your license, and an increase in your insurance rate of up to 100 percent. Even worse, you could get dropped by your insurance company altogether.
It is most important to know that a speeding automobile is a potential death trap. You are much too important to leave this world during your exciting teen years. It can happen! When you are the driver, watch your speed and keep alert at all times. When you are the passenger, be the one wise enough to speak up once you notice the driver becoming overly exuberant with the gas pedal. You will literally be looking out for that driver's own safety — and, of course, the safety of everyone else in the vehicle.
A READER'S RESPONSE TO A PAST COLUMN
DR. WALLACE: I'm responding to the letter from a 20-year-old wife who wanted to return to college to gain her degree. Her husband didn't think it was necessary, because he had a good job and earned enough money to support their family of three.
Your answer was good (yes, return to college), but you forgot to point out something else that's also important to consider. If something were to happen to her husband, she would then be the sole supporter of their daughter. So, it's wise on another level to go out and get that extra education. One never knows how or when it might come in handy. — Anonymous, Chicago
ANONYMOUS: Your point is excellent and a welcome addition to the original answer to that question. Thank you for your input and for reading this column.
Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.