driving safety issue alexa anderson liz millay ... ity to stay safe and keep drivers around you safe...

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  • Driving Safety Issue Gering High School Kaitlyn Krzyzanowski Alexa Anderson Liz Millay Michael Marsh Holly Grote

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  • January 2013 Blue Prints Viewpoints 3

    Our school has seen more than its share of trag- edy in recent weeks. The deaths of three young peo- ple shouldn’t seem any less senseless or sad than the deaths of anyone else, but for us, they simply are. That’s in part because of the lost promise, lost futures — proms and graduations and weddings that will never happen. But it’s also because so many of the accidents were easily preventable. Yet many young people seem to believe that laws — of government, physiology, phys- ics and common sense — don’t apply to them. More im- portantly, many teens believe they are invincible. After all tragedy or death isn’t going to happen to us, right? Teenagers today are fearless, bold and risky be- cause tragedies always seem to occur around us rather than directly to us. This kind of invincibil- ity is revealed best when teens get behind the wheel; on the road with a group of friends or even alone. All too often, teens are seen driving through the streets with a phone in one hand, with the other hand on the steering wheel and with a car full of distracting friends and loud music blaring full blast through their speakers. State Sen. John Harms, who represents our area in the Nebraska Legislature, seems to feel these re- cent losses as much as anyone. During his time in Lincoln he has been a champion of bills that would save lives but which occasionally rub other senators, and sometimes his own constituents, the wrong way. When he proposed putting seat belts in school buses, for instance, some complained about the cost and made stale arguments about government intrusion. We are sure to hear grumbling about two bills he’s proposing this session. They would toughen the ban

    against texting while driving and the law requir- ing seat belts. Both violations would become pri- mary offenses, meaning that a police officer could pull someone over just for breaking those laws. As it stands, drivers can’t be ticketed for violations unless they’re pulled over for another reason. In consider- ing the bills, lawmakers should take into account that fines don’t seem to faze many teen offenders, but losing the right to drive for a while certainly might. Harms also sponsored the 2010 texting legislation that resulted in the existing law. He wanted texting while driving classified as a primary offense then, too, but the bill was watered down by other lawmakers. The law is often ignored by drivers who text because they know they can’t be pulled over even if it’s obvious that they’re doing it. Only 89 tickets were written for the of- fense in 2011. The law certainly was broken far more often than that — often enough that it isn’t unusual anymore to have a close call with a young driver whose attention is on his or her cell phone instead of the road. No text is worth taking a life. Beyond just texting, it is important for people to keep their minds focused on what is happening around him/her. For instance, being aware of the speed limit, of the road conditions,

    of traffic signs and stoplights and of the vehicles around someone are all critical steps to avoid potential dangers. In fact, distracted driving is becoming a more com- mon cause of wrecks. In 2011, the state saw about 3,500 such crashes resulting in 1,200 injuries and six fatalities. A driver is 23 times more likely to get into an accident while sending or reading a text message than if not dis- tracted, according to a 2009 study by the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute. Nebraska, Iowa, Virginia and Ohio are the only states that make texting while driving a secondary offense; in 35 states it’s a primary offense. Some senators argue that people should have the free- dom to decide whether to wear seat belts. That so-called freedom is costly, as we’ve seen in our own community. The “freedom” to text and drive only gets more people killed. It would be naïve to think that those deaths would stop if these laws pass. It’s illegal for kids to drink. It’s illegal to drink and drive. It’s no secret that drinking and driving can lead to needless tragic deaths, but people continue to do it anyway. Still, giving police more leeway to prevent such deaths makes sense. You can only enjoy freedom if you’re alive. For now, we may feel invincible, but it only takes a millisecond for a life changing event to occur. Let us avoid these situations. Let us stay focused. Let us realize that we are not invincible.

    TexTing. Driving. Drinking. Time to realize teens are not invincible

    AlexA Anderson editoriAl Writing gering HigH scHool

  • 6 blue printsJanuary 2013 7

    Embracing safety on the road Practicing safe driving proves really helpful

    >>KAITKRZYZANOWSKI

    Cell phone use dangerous Driving with technology has consequences

    >>HOLLYGROTE

    In recent months, Senator John Harms has been proposing laws to increase safe- ty while driving. Senator Harms wants to toughen the laws against texting while driving by making it a primary offense. Currently in the state of Nebraska, tex- ting while driving a secondary offense, meaning a cop cannot pull someone over for just texting while driving. To be writ- ten up for texting and driving, someone would have to commit another offense, like running a red light or speeding. If someone is caught texting while driving, it is a $200 fine for the first offence, $300 fine for the second offense and $500 fine for any offence after that. Senator Harms would like to make texting while driving a primary offense. If the law was made into a primary offense, fines could double, as well as a drivers license suspension. In Nebraska, it is illegal for people un- der the age of 18 to use cell phones while driving, but anyone over 18 is free to use a cell phone while driving. This is the case in most states; adults are trust- ed with cell phones behind the wheel. Only Nebraska, Iowa, Virginia and Ohio have laws that make texting while driv- ing a secondary offense. In 35 states, it is a primary offense. Only five states, Florida, Hawaii, Montana, South Caro- lina and South Dakota have no laws at all against texting while driving. A driver is 23 times more likely to get into an accident while they are tex- ting. Out of all of the wrecks caused by texting in the state in the past year, 89% of them were due to teens us-

    Handling the highway Tips for staying safe at high speeds

    Highway safety is not something to ignore, in fact here are a few steps to simply staying safe on your lo- cal highway. It may seem like common sense but fol- lowing these few tips will ensure safety for all drivers. First, be sure to abide by the speed limits. Normal speed limits on a highway is 65 mph, although remember to adjust speed according to different weather conditions and while approaching road construction. About 30% of all car wrecks happen because of excessive speed. Next, be a courteous driver and share the roads. It is es- pecially safe to share the road when large vehicles or semi trucks are present. Remember to maintain a safe following distance between you and a large vehicle or semi. Every 16 minutes a person is injured or killed by either eighteen wheelers, tractors or semi trucks. The last major thing to keep in mind of highway safe- ty is emergency vehicles. Slowing down 20 mph be- low the speed limit and moving a lane away from the emergency vehicle will help you to stay safe. Remember driving is a privilege and its your responsibil- ity to stay safe and keep drivers around you safe as well.

    The concept of driving safely is ignored in a lot of situations and most do not know a whole lot about what qualifies are safe. Teenagers, especially, are the most un- aware of the ways to being a safe driver. Young adults generally consider things such as cell phones and alcohol use to be the primary reasons for bad driving. However, things such as emotions can also play a role in unsafe driving. Emotions can have serious effects on driv- ing, especially involving fatigue and stress. Driving skills can be negatively impact- ed from many emotions, including hap- piness - not just when the driver is upset. In order to be safer when dealing with the emo- tions of the day, just pull over if a moment is needed to regain thoughts. Relaxing oneself will ensure a safe trip home and if it is possible, staying off the road is a better choice in these situations. If the emotions are strong, find something to dis- tract yourself. Music can help with that. The main goal is to focus on the road and the task at hand. As far as stress goes, just allow extra time to get to the destination. That way, there won’t be so much worry in getting places on time. Hazardous conditions are where it is most important to allow extra time because of the dangers. Focusing on the roads is very im- portant when it comes to these conditions. Driving with caution and remaining calm in the best way to get through it. If any situation is uneasy to the driver, then it’s vital that one just sl