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The Inquirer's ever-evolving way to start your day. Email. Phone: 215-854-2388.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Talk About It, Talk About It ...
How I Almost Died As a Teenage Driver
Yeah, it's a stereotype and a cliche: Young folks take reckless risks on the road. While I can't speak for everybody, I do know this: Man, was I stupid one day heading to the Shore in my Corvair. Night after the senior prom, I believe. I was following a friend in his car, both of us speeding. He decided to pass and I followed right behind him. We were doing about 90. (Not a totally unfamiliar speed, I must admit.) I figured he knew I was back there, and he'll pull in with time for me to slide in, too, since I couldn't see the traffic in front of him.

Let's review: Doing 90. Stupid. Passing behind someone. Stupid. Assuming smart thinking while doing 90 and flying blind. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

Oh, did I mention Route 70 was a two-lane road, there? So we were passing in the lane for oncoming traffic. Key detail. Oncoming traffic. Sounds like some kind of clue about what not to do.

He finally pulled in ... and, you guessed it, right in front of me was an oncoming car.

As the collision-course oncomer took the shoulder to the left, somebody to my right with actual brains drove off onto the shoulder, too, not only evading his chances of being hit but creating room for me to get back in the proper lane.

Which I did. Without a scratch. In my rearview mirror, through clouds of dust, I could see those two cars had managed to stay on the shoulder and not encounter the Pine Barrens.

In columns about fatal crashes involving teens, columnist John Grogan made two points:

(1) "Kids are dumb." So said the first officer at the scene of the late September crash in which three teens were killed. See "Young lives lost, lessons unlearned."

(2) Parents need to be smarter, too. In "Time for parents to take the wheel" he tells how his mother wouldn't let him drive without an adult in the car till he was 17. Now he's grateful. "I knew I wasn't ready. ... I'm here to tell the tale. Some of my classmates were not so lucky."

Pennsylvania needs to rethink this driving at 16, perhaps requiring adult supervision after dark till 17. And restrict how many teen passengers a teen driver can have.

Yet I was 17. Sober, too. And still driving like an idiot. In broad daylight.

Have a similar story to tell? Post it as a comment, or record it for others to hear by calling 215-854-2388.

And drive safely out there. The roads are wet.


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