“Putting the Brakes on Teenage Driving ”
I. On a chilly November night, a Ford Explorer charged down a California highway.
A. The 16-year-old driver and three of his friends were returning from a concert when the driver lost control of the car.
B. The driver and one passenger were killed; the other two passengers were severely injured.
C. One of the passengers was my nephew, who will be in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.
II. Tragic auto accidents involving teenage drivers are much too common in all parts of the United States.
III. After researching the subject, I have come to agree with the experts that the best way to prevent such accidents is to raise the age for full driving privileges to 18.
IV. I know from my audience-analysis questionnaire that most of you oppose such a plan, but I ask you to listen with an open mind while we discuss the problems associated with teenage driving, the major causes of the problems, and a plan that will help solve the problems.
I. There are too many motor vehicle accidents, deaths, and injuries involving teenage drivers.
A. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, while teenagers make up 7 percent of the nation’s licensed drivers, they represent 14 percent of all motor vehicle fatalities.
B. Last year alone 8,666 people were killed in automobile accidents involving teenage drivers—almost exactly the number of full-time students on this campus.
C. Evidence also shows that the younger the driver, the greater the risk.
1. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 16-year-olds have “the highest percentage of crashes involving speeding, the highest percentage of single-vehicle crashes, and the highest percentage of crashes with driver error.”
2. USA Today reports that 16-year-olds are three times more likely to be involved in fatal crashes than are other drivers.
(TRANSITION: Now that we’ve seen the extent of the problem, we can explore its causes.)
II. There are four major causes of the problem.
A. One of the causes is inexperience.
1. New drivers haven’t had enough time on the road to develop their driving skills.
2. Of course, inexperience is not the only cause, since there will always be inexperienced drivers—even if the driving age were raised to 21 or even to 25.
B. A second cause is revealed by brain research.
1. Findings from the National Institute of Mental Health show that the brain of an average 16-year-old has not developed to the point where he or she is able to judge the risk of a given situation.
2. A five-year study of traffic records by Steven Lowenstein, a medical professor at the University of Colorado, shows that “deliberate risk-taking and dangerous and aggressive driving behaviors predominated” among 16-year-old drivers.
C. A third cause of motor vehicle fatalities among teenage drivers is night driving.
1. According to the Washington Post, when 16-year-olds get behind the wheel after dark, the likelihood of having an accident increases several times over.
2. Nighttime driving is less safe for everyone, but it becomes particularly dangerous when combined with a younger driver’s inexperience and reduced ability to gauge risk.
D. A fourth cause of accidents is the presence of teenage passengers in the car.
1. We all know what it’s like to drive with friends in the car, the stereo up loud, cell phones ringing, everyone laughing and having a good time.
2. Unfortunately, all these factors create distractions that too often result in accidents, injury, and death.
3. Allan Williams, chief scientist at the...
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