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Close call for teen driver

November 18, 2009 - Michael Palmer
As parents, we are always worried about our children. No matter what age, it is a constant that we are concerned about their safety. When they get behind the wheel of a car that dread increases ten fold.

I drive many miles a week and see numerous drivers make poor decisions, sometimes these are teen drivers. Because I cover high school athletics, I can sometimes put a name to the face behind the wheel.

While I will not reveal the violator, the recent narrow escape is worth noting and perhaps it could save some young people from injury or worse.

I was traveling down Route 7 on the two-lane portion and a mini van approached from behind. I was traveling the posted 55 mph speed limit and could tell the vehicle was impatiently waiting to pass. When the driver moved out into the left lane approaching a curve both the oncoming traffic and myself had to hit the brakes hard to avoid a collision. The mini van showed no sign of backing down and ducked into the right lane, speeding south.

The van then turned into the high school I was to visit for team photos and three teenage girls piled out, talking and smiling, seemingly oblivious to the close call. As a parent, I imagined the headlines and suffering, because I have seen it all before. Moments of silence, black armbands and patches on uniforms, special t-shirts on teenage athletes that mark a tragedy.

If you are a parent or coach, perhaps when you are telling your teens to be on time to practice, you add this should be done without violating safety rules on the highway. With hundreds of local teen athletes driving to and transporting teammates to practice each day, this is an important concern.

As it turned out, they had to wait for over a half hour and the need for speed was unnecessary. I can recall being a teen driver and the feeling of freedom, power and immortality that is like a drug when you are behind the wheel of a car. It is tragic that we too often learn through our own mistakes that the advice of our parents, if followed, could save us a lot of pain and trouble.

But where’s the fun in that?


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