Young Adult and Teen Driver Safety – Don’t Be a Statistic
This week, the week of October 19th through October 25, 2016, is National Teen Driver Safety Week. A week that I wish I would have paid more attention to when I was younger. A week that could have potentially saved my friend’s life.
I am not writing this post to fill your mind and your head with statistics. While some of those statistics are shuddersome, I am writing this post on a very personal level. With a very heavy heart, I am instead going to tell about ONE statistic – my friend. This is a personal story of mine that will hopefully help make your decision to drink and drive a bit easier… that it won’t even be a “decision” when it comes time to choose… that you won’t second guess your choice to give up your keys.
It was October 30, 2009. It was a Friday. It also happened to be my best friend, and roommate’s birthday. We planned to go out that night with friends for a birthday supper followed by a few drinks. We did. We then planned to go out dancing at one of the bars in town. We did. What I did not plan for… was one of my good friends not living to see the break of dawn on October 31, 2009.
A little before bar close, my roommates and I got a taxi, and we went home. All three of us made it home safely. All three of us crawled into bed to see another day.
My other friend stayed behind. The last time I saw him we were out on the dance floor, around midnight, at a bar in Mandan. I had told him that if he got too drunk to drive that he could stay with me. To just give me a call. At a little after 1 in the morning, as I was falling asleep in bed, I missed his phone call. The phone call that could have saved his life. A phone call that would have had him sleeping on my couch, on my floor, in my home, with me, instead of driving home to his house, 30 miles away.
He never made it home. I missed his phone call… and he never made it home.
I will never forget finding out the morning of October 31st. I think about him every week, every month, every year – especially around Halloween when I think of all my friends going to Halloween parties. I tell them to be safe. I tell them not to drive drunk. Not to drive if they’ve had a drink at all. To call me no matter what time of the night. That I will keep my phone on ring and not on vibrate and that I will come pick them up and take them home safely. That I will pay them back the cost of a taxi ride… because that cost of a safe ride is a lot less than the cost of a life.
I learned the hard way. I had to learn by going to a funeral… the hardest funeral I have ever been to… in early November… for my friend who had just turned 21. He never made it to 22… 23… 24… or 25. But you can.
That is why I encourage all young adults to be careful. Not just during National Teen Driver Safety Week, but always. I encourage all young adults ages 14 to 24 to take the NDSC’s Alive at 25 defensive driving course… in hopes that they will make it to the age of 25 safely. That they will know all the risks of being a young driver, not just with alcohol, but with weather, drugs, speeding, texting, and peer pressure. I encourage all young drivers to learn control, to be in control, and to take control when behind the wheel.
Don’t be a statistic. Don’t learn the hard way. Don’t take a chance. Just ask me. Because you can’t ask him.
For more information on Alive at 25, a young adult and high school driver education course, please go to the North Dakota Safety Council’s Traffic Safety webpage. There is a schedule listed with information on registering for a driver’s education course program near you. If you have additional questions call the NDSC at 701-223-6372.