Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Archive for December, 2009

Carnage in California: why can’t we drive in the rain?

Posted by lapearce on December 8, 2009

This happens about this time every year: Southern California gets its first rain in about eight months, the dirty roads get incredibly slick, and car-capades take effect as people slide around, apparently having forgotten how to drive on wet grounds since it has been so long since the last storm. Monday, Orange County had nearly 500 calls about crashes, compared to less than 150 last Monday when it was dry. Luckily,  no one was killed.

California drivers do deserve some slack when it comes to wet weather driving. First, because it rains so little each rain is like the first rain, and our roads are a lot slicker because a lot more oil has been allowed to accumulate in the road. Second: we often times get a lot of rain fairly quickly and our roads can’t cope with it, which leads to flooding and causes more crashes. Third: because it rains only a handful of times a year many of us don’t bother changing tires for winter, many of us will run on summer tires all year long– maybe not the smartest thing to do, but we do it.

All our excuses can’t forgive the truth of the So Cal roads in December. How I see is that there are two fundamental problem drivers out there: the drivers who drive as if it is dry, and the drivers who drive as if it is icy. When the reckless meet the over cautious you get crashes. Throw into the mix the average driver who has increased caution but not to the point where they are a moving road block and well… the whole thing is a mess.

People need to realize that while rain isn’t the end of the world, they need to adjust their driving for the weather. Whoa your speed down, but also important: leave more space between you and the cars around you and be observant. Traction and visibility are often impaired in the rain. This reduces your chances of seeing danger (adding to reaction time) but you can’t make up that lost time because guess what — your car won’t stop as far or won’t grip to the payment. Que the fender benders and spin outs. Instead of having this outcome, just leave more room! Give yourself a lot more space than you would in dry weather and also be watchful, for the people driving as if it wasn’t raining, the people driving as if the world is ending, and the people who are distracted or aren’t leaving the space they need. If everyone just slowed down a little, rainy roads would be a much better place.

Don’t get me started on So Cal drivers in the snow.

Collage of Car Carnage:

Ferrari spun out:

Driver was seriously injured:

Hey truck, you’re not supposed to be on your roof:

Car was hit by an SUV, causing it to spin into the pole:

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Speeding teen kills family of four in Somona, CA

Posted by lapearce on December 3, 2009

This tragic tale happens far too often. 19 year old Steven Culbertson killed a family of four on Saturday night as he ran a red light in his MINI Cooper at 70-90mph. Speed limit on the road is 55mph. His little car t-boned a Nissan minivan killing the family of four inside as they returned from the airport after a vacation in Hawaii. John and Susan Maloney and their children Aiden (8) and Gracie (5) were killed instantly in the crash, Steven died on Sunday due to his injuries. To add salt to the wounds, two deadbeats decided that since the family was dead they no longer needed their worldly possessions and robbed their house. The couple was arrested yesterday, ironically they were found out when the woman, Amber True, was arrested for driving without a license.

Minivan belonging to the Maloney family after being hit by a speeding teen

Steven had his license suspended for a year when he was 17 due to drunk driving. It is unclear at this point if alcohol was a factor in this crash, but an eye witness says he say him drinking two hours before the fateful crash, which, ironically, happened right down the street from Infineon Raceway, a place where people can go those types of speed legally and safely without having to worry about hitting minivans filled with children.

The MINI driver had aspirations of being a racer, and had taken his car to the track– the only place where one should drive like he was driving on Saturday night. Unfortunately, Steven could not separate track driving from road driving and it lead to his death and the death of four others. He made a big mistake, a mistake that could have implications for your teen.

First off, when ever a crash like this happens, the thing that stands out for everyone is the word teenager. Steven just dropped the credibility of all teen drivers by his mistake. Teens already have really low credibility as drivers due to their inexperience, and their propensity to make bad decisions. Teens do cause more crashes than older drivers, but that doesn’t mean that teens are always at fault for their crashes or that all teens will make the same mistake Steven did.

Secondly, when crashes like this happen the natural reaction of many is “change the laws/road so this doesn’t happen again”. People love blaming the road. The road didn’t do anything, it was just a strip of asphalt that accommodated the perpetrator of the crime. There is always something to blame with the road. There’s a rise in the hill that interferes with visibility, or the speed limit is too high, or there aren’t enough barriers, no matter what the case, the road will be blamed. Then people will look at the laws, and not the driver training laws, they’ll try to restrict teen drivers more. This just puts a band-aid on the problem and doesn’t fix anything.

Third: race car drivers or aspiring race car drivers can have their name tarnished. I’m a HUGE advocate of taking your car to the track. You learn so much about yourself as a driver and the abilities of your car when you push it to the limits. It makes you a better driver. It is also the only safe place to drive your car fast. I find that going to the track takes the need for speed away and that I drive calmer on the road for weeks after a good day on a race track. Most of the race car drivers I know drive very responsibly on the road. I don’t want anyone to look down at people who drive on the track, or keep their children from participating in track days, because of this crash. It is worthwhile and driving fast on the track does not mean you will drive fast on the road.
I really hope that one day we no longer have to read stories like this. I hope that one day better training means that drivers are more responsible on the road. Until that day: be safe, and keep it on the track!

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In case you needed more proof that the driver’s education program is broken

Posted by lapearce on December 1, 2009

I just had this conversation with a fifteen-year-old:

Teen: I just finished drivers ed last night D

Me: Congrats, how was the class?

Teen: Well it was online, I listened to music, watched tv and used the book, aka didn’t learn s**t.

Me: That is exactly what is wrong with the system

Teen: It was free and offered through school

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