FREE SPEECH ZONE | Are You too Cool to Buckle Up

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Many people think that teens are crazy and outgoing. To be honest you are right; we want to have our own experiences. We don’t like to be told what to do, especially when it comes from our parents. We think we are tough, invincible and that we know everything. But, really, who knows what is going through our minds when we are behind the wheels!

Just to think that in the state of Minnesota, 18 teens died during one weekend of April. Impressively, most of these teens were under the age of 18. Not too long ago on a weekend in mid May, there was another car accident with teenagers. A 16-year-old boy died because he decided not to wear his seatbelt. What was going through the minds of these agers? Were they too cool to wear a seat belt?

Thankfully, there are many organizations in Minnesota that are making a difference.

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One of the organizations is “Safe Communities” a Minnesota based organization. Pat Hackman is the Executive Director of Safe Communities. He said he got interested in this because of the high risk of teens being involved and hurt in vehicles crashes and knowing that crashes are predictable and preventable. He also said, “Nationally about 5000 teens are killed on roads in the U.S. that is like 10 jumbos jets full of teenagers crashing every year with no survivors”. This Organization is making a difference because they created a web site were they can partner up with other organizations. They have made the Distracted Driving Campaign, Teen Drive Write, Parent/Teen Project, Seat Belt Challenge, and many more.

Fox 9 News a television network has done many investigations on teen drunk driving and teens dying because they don’t wear their seat belts. One of their specials reports is called, “Room to Live.” In the program they demonstrate what police officers are doing to prevent road tragedies. They also show a video that has the same name, “Room to Live”. The video shows family member that are being affected by the death of another family member because of car accidents. Police officers take this video to high schools because they think that an image can have a bigger impact than a police officer giving statistics for a half an hour.

Roosevelt high is making a difference. Mr. Moure a driver education teacher, decided to put a crashed car in front of the school were the students could see it. This way he showed students were they could end up if they decide to not drive carefully or wear a seatbelt. Yet he thinks that students should be in the roads at the age of 16. He thinks that is not about the age, is more about maturity. Mr. Moure also thinks that the parents play an important role in the teens driving. “Parents need to take the important role of practicing with their children, then monitoring their progress,” says Mr. Moure.

Nancy Phetsamone, a senior at Roosevelt high school and teenage driver, said, “I think that teens should be behind the wheels at the age of 16. No matter what age you are, you will always have a chance to get into a car accident”. She also agreed that some car accidents happen because teens are not responsible and make poor choices like not wearing a seatbelt or not driving at speed limit. But will wearing a seat belt make teens look less cool? Nancy said “I don’t care if I look cool or not, I make sure that everyone wears their seatbelt before I start driving, or else I won’t drive.”

Although wearing or not wearing a seat belt might be a controversial

topic among teenagers, this doesn’t matter because the state of Minnesota passed a law in June 9, 2009 that allows police officers to stop a driver because he is not wearing his seatbelt. The fine is $25.00 but it is not about the money, it is about the safety.

There were a lot of tragedies in the passed months, but as the accidents grew, more organizations and schools came together to make a difference. This difference can change or save a life. That is why they encourage you to wear your seatbelt and drive safely, because there is still room to live.