This guest post comes via Rosemary Willis, 2012's Miss Virginia.
It’s National Teen Driver Safety week! Though I’m not a teen anymore, I definitely have experienced the importance of this issue both in my teen years and now in my 20’s. In high school, I had many friends that got into dangerous accidents because of texting. Unfortunately, even one of my neighbors chose to drink and drive, which ended his best friend’s life.
As Miss Virginia, I spend several thousand miles on the road each month, traveling Virginia to promote my platform, attend charity events, speak in schools, and prepare for the Miss America pageant in January. It is so important to always be alert and attentive while driving. Though as a singer, I’m tempted to blast my music and jam out in the car with the windows down, I know even a small distraction like that can lead to a mistake, which in many cases can cost someone his or her life. There is no text or song too important to take that risk.
Virginia is the only state or commonwealth in the country that requires parents and their teen drivers to attend a licensing ceremony performed by a judge in a courtroom. My own father happened to be the juvenile judge that gave me mine, and scared my fellow peers into the seriousness of driving. Driving ain’t no joke folks! Young drivers often think they are entitled and see a license as a right of passage; the truth is that it’s a privilege, not a right, and not to be taken lightly. The judge hands the license to the parent to give to the child when they deem the child responsible enough. In high school, every time I left the house to drive somewhere I heard my dad say, “Don’t drive too fast!” It was a constant reminder to obey the speed limit and really think about what I’m doing each time I get into the driver’s seat. Even today as I’m living on my own, I’m thankful that reminder still echoes loud and clear in my mind from my dad, who cared enough to say something no matter how annoying or obvious it seemed to me at the time.
Motor Vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for ages 15-20. The majority of crashes involve the driver being distracted or speeding. This is a very sad reality that needs to be brought to the forefront of new driver’s minds to protect them and keep our roads safe. That is why I’m excited about the IKnowEverything campaign! The resources that they will bring to judges’ ceremonies and driving classes will better educate and prepare drivers as they hit the road. This is not in place to make driving less “fun”, but to make sure each teen has every opportunity to live a long, healthy life.
Next time you grab the keys and leave the house, remember, “Don’t drive too fast” and stay alert! Driving should help get you to where you need and want to go in life, instead of stopping you before you see your goals and dreams achieved.