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Driving safely is always our responsibility

Editor's column
By: Carol Feineman, Editor
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A 17-year-old Rocklin male unfortunately died April 12 in a single-car accident on Highway 65 between the Twelve Bridges Drive and Lincoln Boulevard exits.

I’m sad every day as I drive near the accident site, knowing that the teen’s life was wiped out in mere seconds. Although I didn’t know him, it still hurts that the teen will never again see his family and friends.

He died much too young.

While nothing can be done to reverse the April 12 accident, it reminds us that we must drive safely every time we get behind a steering wheel.

Driving a car is an automatic activity for many of us. I often catch myself daydreaming while I’m driving Highway 65.

But we can’t take driving, even a trip to the store a block away, ever for granted.

The heartbreaking accident is a reminder to talk to your family members, especially teens, about driving safely.

Drivers, between the ages of 15 and 19, have more accidents, according to California Highway Patrol (CHP) Officer David Martinez.

Teenagers tend to think at times they are invincible, according to Martinez.

“Teens are at a higher risk of becoming involved in a traffic collision,” Martinez said. “Some factors that may contribute to this are distracted driving, being inexperienced behind the wheel, speed and a sense of invincibility.”

Martinez is glad that first-time drivers are required by law to have no passengers with them for one year.

“They should adhere by that law. The goal of that,” Martinez said, “is to gain more experience behind the wheel without distractions. Distractions are not just a cell phone or texting; it’s also talking with others in the car.”

Having a driver’s license is a huge responsibility.

“When your kids are driving, you trust them not to drive distractedly but to drive safe. We’re letting them go. They’re in the Major Leagues because the actions and the choices they make can now affect the lives of others,” Martinez said. “Before, they were riding their bikes or skateboarding, and if they goofed up, they didn’t hurt others. If they make the same mistakes now and cause a collision, they can affect others around them.”

To make sure their teens are driving safely, Martinez recommends parents periodically ride with them.

“Look for driving behaviors that might be unsafe,” Martinez said. “Maybe they’re driving and texting or driving fast. Then address it and fix it with them immediately.”

Unsafe driving isn’t only exhibited by young and inexperienced drivers, who also aren’t used to operating a car. Older drivers also exhibit bad behaviors and habits.

“Drivers get complacent, even adults. People need to be responsible. If they notice speed getting away or they’re going through yellow signals or doing Hollywood stops,” Martinez said, “they need to remember the driving rules and check themselves. They need to be accountable for their own actions.”

One of the CHP’s goals is to ensure that the roadways remain safe for everyone at all times.

 “Most people know better. If we’re on a surface street and we’re monitoring traffic, everyone stops,” Martinez said. “If someone is talking on the phone and they see us, they put down the phone. They know it’s wrong. Motorists should follow the rules of the road at all times, not just when they see law enforcement on the roadways.”

Common sense plays a big part when behind a wheel. However, we become impatient, we’re late for a meeting or we just have to make that one phone call. And then we use less-than-safe driving shortcuts.

Those shortcuts are not worth it. Life-threatening and/or deadly accidents can happen in less than a second.

It’s better to not tailgate, to be late to the meeting and to make that one phone call later. Driving safer is so much smarter, in both the short run and the long run.