Take responsibility behind the wheel; remember what your actions can cause

Nov. 16, 2015

Alexander Nedd
anedd@uccs.edu

Nothing was going to stand in the way of my ultimate goal of meeting my favorite driver before a NASCAR race.

At least I thought nothing would. Let’s flashback to May.

A surprise hailstorm turned the backroads of Colorado toward I-70 east into a complete mess. I suddenly found myself an hour behind schedule and in danger of not making my dream come true.

Not wanting to miss this rare opportunity to see a NASCAR driver, I decided to channel my inner-racer and put the pedal to the medal.

Unfortunately, so did an unmarked Dodge Charger driving in the opposite direction that flipped a U-turn across a grassy median.

It’s funny how the colors red, white and blue symbolize freedom until they are flashing in your rear-view mirror. I was cited for going 96 in a 75 miles per hour zone.

Upset? No. I was furious. I didn’t hurt anyone, no one was even around. I rationally began to make up examples that approved of my law breaking.

It wasn’t until I was venting toward my mom that her disappointment and the reality of the situation set in.

“You could have killed someone, Alex; you of all people should know that.”

Kill someone.

The weight of those words from my mom still makes me shudder.

Most of us believe we will never kill someone in our lifetime. But the reality is this: we each bring a weapon to school every day.

We don’t consider our vehicles a weapon, despite the “Hunger Games” style of thinking we embrace as we search for parking on campus. It’s a mindset that has desensitized our generational response to speeding and its consequences.

We’ve heard the stats before. Car accidents are the number one cause of death for adults ages 18 to 24 in the United States, a car crash occurs every ten seconds, etc.

But for whatever reason, that doesn’t stop us. We live in a generation that accepts these faults.

It’s OK to text while driving, as long as it’s only for half a second.

It’s OK to race our friends down the road when the light turns green when we don’t see other cars around.

It’s OK to completely cutoff that lady; she started it.

These are all scenarios I’ve encountered while driving with friends.

So how do we change the way we look at driving? Statistics don’t work. But reality does. And the reality is not pretty.

The next time you’re behind the wheel, consider that it could be the last time you see your family.

That’s what I thought when my mother scolded me on my poor decision. I could have killed myself, as well as the driver next to me.

Imagine after everything you’ve worked for to get to UCCS, to have it taken away, whether by death or justice, all because of a lapse of judgement behind the wheel.

That scares me, and I hope it scares you, too.

As a NASCAR fan, I’ve seen my share of incredible crashes at 200 miles per hour. While these drivers place themselves in danger and are protected by state-of-the-art machines and other safety features, typical drivers like us aren’t that skilled.

Speeding reduces the time you have to avoid a crash and increases injuries you might receive. It is also the only factor in driving that you can have complete control over. There is no excuse.

We have to take responsibility for what we do behind the wheel. We have to talk to our friends about their actions as well.

It’s a dialogue that needs to happen.

I didn’t get to see my favorite driver that day, but I did live to see the rest of the race.