When I first got my license a little over two months ago, I was under the impression that driving a gas-guzzling, aluminum coffin was going to send me six feet under if I made any mistakes at all behind the wheel. With ads left and right directed at teens against texting and driving, it’s easy to fall under the impression that teenagers are terrible drivers. This is a lie.
Teen drivers have been continuously beat into submission of believing they’re terrible drivers because the constant onslaught of ads against texting and driving. In 2009, 8,800 adults ages 25 to 34 died in a fatal car accident due to distracted driving. This is out of the 36,694 drivers that the U.S. census recorded that year, which works its way out to a 18.1 percent fatality rate. Compare that to 8.1 percent fatality rate of 19-year-olds and younger, and you can see that my argument has some ground to it. But those facts are just numbers, it’s a statistic that we glance over without giving it much thought.
So let’s get personal.
On Oct. 15, I dropped ten grand on a little Japanese import that goes by the name of Mitsubishi Evolution X. For people who care about cars, that name means a lot, but to the average Joe, it means nothing. I could have said Toyota Camry XLE and I would have gotten the same, “Aww, dude sick ride bro” reaction.
The Evo X is a rally car that often competes against Subaru Imprezas and Clio Renaults on the global rally stage. It can beat riced-out Honda Civics and Mazda Miatas on the track.
It’s not a Camry.
Anyway, I love my car. It cost me more than half of my savings, and I didn’t just have the keys dropped into my hands by Mommy and Daddy like a handful of my friends. I actually dropped the keys into their hands.
On Oct. 16, a day after I signed the contract on the Evo, my father drove his 2010 Toyota Camry through a Sprint parking lot wall, effectively ending the life of that econobox.
“I thought it was in reverse,” he said after he proceeded to slam it through 12-inch cement.
In reality, my father was on his phone, trying to text one of my sisters while “reversing” out of a parking spot. Now, every morning I have to hand him the keys to the love of my life, and get dropped off at school in my own car that I still have to pay insurance and gas for.
This isn’t the first time texting has cost me a car, though. Before I bought my Japanese hyper car, I was gunning for a Mazda Miata, a ‘93 with the pretty pop-up lights. I searched for over five months, looking at every ad on Craigslist and listening to a car salesman’s pitch on a used Toyota Prius that had 200,000 miles and was selling for $15,000.
“It’s all highway miles,” I remember the crusty, 47-year-old man with a 4 o’clock shadow saying to me.
I eventually lined up a deal through Craigslist with a man in Wyandotte with the perfect Miata. It wasn’t modded, it didn’t have an LS1 swapped engine in it, it didn’t need new gaskets. It was perfect.
The day of the deal, a warm Saturday in July as I wanted the car ready for school, the man selling me the car smashed the front end of the cherry-red convertible into a trash can while he was texting his wife. The Miata was totaled and sent to a scrap yard later that week, and I cried the day I received the text from the 30-year-old saying that the little sports car was dead.
If it wasn’t for texting and driving, I would be driving to school every day, but instead I have to give parents my car while they search for a replacement which will take God knows how long. While my stories were relatively painless compared to the nine people that die every day from distracted driving, it still shows that drivers, not just teens, need to realize that texting and driving is dangerous and can result in somebody getting seriously injured.