I do not have an extensive background in the transportation industry, specifically teen driving. And when I say extensive, I mean, more than 3 months. I started at the National Safety Council, in the transportation industry and more importantly, on this social issue of teen driving, in September with a whole lot to learn.
In fact, there is a saying here, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” It seems like a redundant concept, but I have found that when I learn what I didn’t know, I realize how much I should have known – for my safety and the safety of others. This time, it was about the real facts behind teen driving.
The fact that shocked me the most is this: the most common denominator behind teen crashes is inexperience. What? It’s not things like cell phones, bad attitudes and YOLO behaviors? I, like so many others, thought the No. 1 killer of teens was caused by something people could throw out or yell about. While some of that rings true, it was shocking to learn that, like me, teen drivers didn’t know what they didn’t know.
Except in their situation, what teens didn’t know was now coupled with a 2-ton vehicle. Yikes.
Fortunately, adults have the opportunity to teach teens something and to be a part of the solution. It isn’t just a matter of blaming some product or inevitable hormonal surge; it is a matter of getting between a dangerous situation and a poor decision a teen is about to make. Because guess what? Teens just don’t know.
It is imperative for adults to take the extra time to show teens what they should know. If teens practice, they learn and are better prepared for the road. And then they, you know, know.
* Bridget Ballek is the coalition manager at the National Safety Council. She oversees the 10 state Teen Safe Driving Coalitions, which are an initiative of NSC and The Allstate Foundation.