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A story you do not want to write

A lot can happen in a short time in a motor vehicle. Driving on an Interstate highway, such as I-81 near Chambersburg, you find the speed limit is 65 miles per hour. Often, you may find drivers exceeding that “limit.” And when you drive long distances at those speeds, you brain can habituate, adopting it as “normal,” and lulling you into failing to recognize just how fast that is.

At a speed of 65 mph, you are covering about 95 feet every second, or almost the equivalent of a 10-story building lying on its side. Every second. For the parent of a young driver, especially a boy, this is a concerning number. 

Teen drivers face many challenges to being safe drivers. They have no real experience operating a car. Becoming comfortable and competent with all of the vehicle controls takes time and experience to develop the muscle memory that allows you to make the correct, quick reactions when a crisis strikes.

Their brains are still developing and some of the parts that provide a cautionary control over impulsive behavior are not fully formed.

And they are distracted. As the first generation to have to deal with smartphones, and their ability to function as a full-fledged computer in the palm of their hand, they often pay the supreme price for failing to grasp what 95 feet per second mean when loading a Facebook screen or sending a text.

A father describes how his son drove his car into the back of a Pennsylvania Department of Transportation snowplow. The plow was cleaning the shoulder of an interstate at 30 mph and his son approached the truck at about 75 mph, which is 110 feet per second. Apparently, the boy was distracted by the Pandora screen on his phone.

He is lucky his son escaped with “a broken right leg, right arm and multiple skull fractures around his eyes and nose but, miraculously, very few internal injuries.” He is expected to make a full recovery. Were that only true of all distracted driving crashes.

Meadvilletribune.com, “Father of son involved in crash calls distracted driving ‘an epidemic’,” Kevin Kiefer, March 9, 2015

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