By: National Safety Council and FCCLA
Congrats, you got your driver’s license and a summer job! No matter what you do for work, if you work in the city, suburbs, or in a rural area, getting there every day may be the most dangerous part of your day. In fact, half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. It’s a risk that few teens, or adults for that matter, fully understand.
So if you’re ready to make #mysafesummerjob a real thing, you can’t overlook the safety of your commute.
This week, the National Safety Council, a leading nonprofit for safety on and off the road, partnered with teen leaders from Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) to discuss the challenges of staying safe while driving to work. Three teens share their own experience of how driving to work opened their eyes to the daily dangers of the road.
Julia Peake is a senior at Flowery Branch High School in Georgia, pursuing a career in filmmaking and is national vice president of finance at FCCLA. As head of production for Purple Nose Film Productions in Atlanta, Georgia, her daily commute takes her through downtown Atlanta, and often filled with unexpected occurrences that are part of driving through the city.
She realized that she pays more attention to her drive to work but she got complacent about her drive around her neighborhood. She thinks both teens and adults don’t realize this kind of complacency can be as dangerous as other types of distraction. Julia says that “bottom line: your daily commute is when you need to be most alert and avoiding complacency can save your life.”
“As a 16-year-old living in one of the most densely populated states in the country, driving can be dangerous. Planning how I will get around during the day is critical to my safety on the streets,” says Kiran Kumaranayakam, a junior at Edison High School in New Jersey. He’s the FCCLA national vice president of competitive events and is considering a career in government, politics and international law. “I have only been driving on the road for a short amount of time. However, I have been a pedestrian my whole life.”
In Kiran’s neighborhood, “urban areas here are far from safe. Without sidewalks, pedestrians frequently walk on the road. For many of the students that bike to school, they are forced to ride on the streets where they are subjected to dangerous conditions.” With pedestrian fatalities hitting a new high, no matter what mode of transportation you use to get around, safety can’t be an afterthought.
Growing up in south Texas, Hannah Little, a senior at Orange Grove High School in Orange Grove, would drive fifteen miles with her dad both morning and evening to feed the livestock on her family’s ranch. Now she does the drive on her own, with plans on attending college at Texas A&M University to major in Business Management. She’s also the FCCLA national vice president of public relations.
“I recently began to notice that I pay more attention to the road while driving to feed the livestock than when I drive to school. I have always been used to driving on county roads and roads with uneven surfaces. These roads provide a lot of surprises, including livestock crossing areas, farm vehicles, and entrances and unmarked driveways. Even though these roads are familiar to me, this does not mean that I am guaranteed a safe trip to my destination every single time.”
A daily commute should not just be a daily routine that you take for granted. Preparing yourself for any distraction or hazard that may lie ahead is one of the surest ways you can prevent crashes. That includes minimizing passengers and turning your off phone while you drive.
As Hannah points out, “it is important that we always pay attention to the roads no matter where our final destination may be.” Learn more about the National Safety Council and FCCLA’s work to keep teens safe on the road.