Save Our Teen Drivers

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

The victim mentality

Posted by lapearce on October 3, 2010

We are a nation of victims.  It seems like it is always someone’s fault when something happens, there is always someone to blame.  Overweight? Blame Starbucks.  Alcoholic?  Blame mom.  Get in a car crash?  Blame the other person, the government organization that maintains the road, the company that made your car, the mechanic who replaced your brakes, the list can go on and on.

I’ve never liked calling a crash an accident because accident implies a lack of fault.  Yet even though people will call something an accident it won’t stop them from pointing fingers and filing lawsuits against anyone who may have money to pay out.  Recently Hyundai settled a lawsuit that stemmed from a fatal crash killed by a drunk executive, who was then helped out of the country by a fellow Hyundai employee.  In this case there was definitely someone at fault– Youn Bum Lee who chose to drive drunk then chose to flee the crash scene and chose to leave the country.  The company that employed him did not make Lee drive drunk, nor did they instruct the other employee to help him flee.  Many times though, fault isn’t so clearly delineated.

While there may be someone who is at fault for a crash, that doesn’t mean that the “victim” was helpless in avoiding the crash.  Last night I was making a left hand turn around midnight after seeing the movie Wall Street (wait for HBO).  It was a double left turn onto a three-lane road.  I was in the outside lane and another car was on the inside lane.  As a defensive driver, I allowed the other car go a head of me and stayed behind the car as we made the left hand turn.  Thankfully I did this because the distracted, teenage driver who was too busy chatting on her phone to pay attention to what she was doing, chose to turn into the far right lane instead of the inside lane that she was supposed to turn into.  Had I been next to her she would have hit me.  It would have been her fault (hard to prove in a sideswipe for your future reference) but just because it would have been her fault doesn’t mean that I was helpless to avoid the crash.  By driving defensively I kept my car in one piece.

I tell all my teen drivers to always assume the other driver isn’t paying attention and to anticipate their next move.  If the person behind you isn’t paying attention or has a bad habit of stopping late then change lanes and let them get in front of you.  That way if they fail to stop they won’t be crashing into your car.  When you stop in traffic, or at a light, make sure to always leave room in front of you and look for an exit.  If the car behind you doesn’t stop in time you at least have a way to reduce the impact.  And, before you go at a green light check for red light runners.

All of these defensive driving techniques will help you not become a victim.  And if you are involved in a crash don’t be afraid to ask yourself what you could have done to avoid the collision.  It will be a good lesson for the next time you are in a similar situation.


2 Responses to “The victim mentality”

  1. Jim Portell said

    On Oct 4, 2002, I lost my 15 year old daughter Jamie in an SUV rollover accident. Jamie was a wonderful daughter active girl who loved to dance, make people smile, and would go out of her way to help others. She was a popular student, cheer leader and on the dance team at her high school. She always had a smile that would light up the darkest room. Jamie was not just my daughter, but she was my best friend who I thought would always be there for me, but she’s not anymore.

    The night of the accident…………………….Jamie had gone to a football game with her best friend who was only 16 years old. On the way home from the game, the driver got a call from a friend whose sister was to have picked her and her friend up from the mall, but never showed up. She stated that they needed a ride home so they went to pick them up along with the driver’s younger brother. After picking their friends up they were heading home down Highway 27 in the left lane. The driver went to look over her right shoulder to change lanes and the vehicle went onto the grassy median. She tried to correct the steering and over compensated causing the vehicle to hit the drainage area on the right side of the road. This caused the vehicle to flip over numerous times ejecting all five passengers. None of them were wearing a seat belt and my daughter Jamie was the only one that died. It really surprised me because Jamie always wore her seatbelt whenever we were in the car together. I guess with an inexperienced driver and kids just wanting to have fun, it was the last thing on her mind. I believe that Jamie would be alive today if we would have had the STANDUP ACT in place back then.

    I lost so much that night! There is nothing in this world that can ever hurt you or anyone more than the pain of losing a child! I felt like an alien around people until I decided to put a reason behind this tragedy. I wanted to use my loss and Jamie’s life to help other kids, parents, brothers and sisters and families. No one should have to suffer such pain. It almost feels inhuman! That is why I support the STANDUP ACT.

    • lapearce said

      Jim, thank you for sharing. A similar crash took my childhood friend Rianna and is the reason why I do what I do to help educate parents and teens about the dangers of driving. I do support STANDUP, but I think it needs to go further by including a stronger focus on driver’s training and not putting all of its eggs in the law enforcement basket. I think more lives will be saved if the act included requirements for defensive driving/car control courses, like what they require in Europe and Japan.

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