(NICOLE KHUDYAKOV / EYE OF THE TIGER)
When I first received my beloved Wade, I was absolutely smitten. He was a “luxury” car, and by this I mean he was a luxury car from 2001. His green and silver tinted body was nothing short of luxurious, regardless of the little knicks and cuts adorning his fender. He had withstood 94,000 miles without me in his 17 years of life, but I swore to myself that he would accompany me throughout high school, college, and wherever else life would take me.
It was – it is, an absolute and reciprocated love. I have felt Wade’s four star safety rating manifest in every seat belt imprinted into my shoulder. We have been through rainy days and thunderstorms. Even though he doesn’t take an AUX cord without two converters and the phone being positioned at exactly a five degree angle, I adore him. He protects me, and I will protect him.
This, however, was simply not so easy.
From what I have experienced, the problem arises when there are too many teen drivers in a concentrated area. I’m not trying to throw some people under the bus – I have many friends who suffer from chronic and unintentional bad driving.
The differentiator here is the intent. I will never fault someone for their inherent inability to drive. I get that sometimes the idea of your foot being the sole obstruction between you and oncoming traffic is daunting, that going 80 miles per hour in two tons of steel is intimidating.
But what I will never get is intentional reckless driving in students.
If you really deliberate – if you, for one moment, cease your right foot currently revving the engine, turn down your obnoxiously loud rap, for once use your signal, you will realize something that I thought was self explanatory.
No one cares. No one is impressed by you going 20 miles per hour above the speed limit. No one is impressed by your street racing or you drifting into u-turns. At the end of the day, you are burning the rubber off of your own tires, paying for your own tickets – and for what…glory?
What will it take for teen drivers to finally value their lives?
Will it take an ugly divot in the rear of your car, a warped trunk? Shattered headlights? Broken bones? Worse, still?
This lack of regard for human life – not even exclusively one’s own, but also everyone else on the road – will always aggravate me. I am not immune to the effects of joyriding. There are few things I enjoy more than driving with my moon roof down at night, feeling the wind whisk away trivial burdens with only Earth Wind and Fire to accompany me.
But I have only ever done so safely. I have driven with the ever present knowledge in my mind that darkness does not mean anonymity. A road clear of the police does not mean a race. A faster car is not a challenge and – for good measure, that driving under the influence is deplorable.
I am not naive.
I am sure many of you will continue on, license in one hand, bottle in the other. I know you will continue with your modified mufflers and your empty consciences. It is, unfortunately, our culture and I’m not sure if it will ever stop being that way.
I am tired. Tired of questioning whether I should go and get food later than 9 p.m. because I know a football just let out. I am tired of almost collisions and being scared to park my car with the front a little to far out for fear of you going 40 miles per hour in Senior Lot and clipping it.
I am not able to control the conditions with which I have to drive with. I am not able to force your head to turn and check your blind spot.
But I am able to control how I drive, and I know that I, and any others who are immune to this superficial concept of glory, will persevere regardless.