Our View: Rollover rekindles the dangers of driving

Our View
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Last Friday’s rollover on Interstate 80 in Auburn raised several talking points when it comes to teenagers and getting behind the wheel. But the most important of the bunch is teen driver safety. Last week’s unfortunate wreck at the Elm Avenue on-ramp on eastbound I-80 highlighted the need for a renewed focus on teaching teens the dangers of being behind the wheel and how to best be safe when driving — especially when carrying passengers. While no one was killed when the 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer sport utility vehicle carrying eight Placer High School students (the SUV can be configured to seat up to seven) flipped over, one person was air-lifted to Sutter Roseville Medical Center and five others were sent to local hospitals. This week, one victim was listed in serious condition at Sutter Roseville. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, 217 teen drivers were killed and 161 passengers of young drivers died in 2008. Distracted driving is an epidemic that faces teenage drivers — and adults, too — and we must tell our children, and ourselves, that it’s imperative to remain alert and focused when on the road. And get involved in that conversation going on in the car when you come to a complete stop. While class instruction and more involvement from parents in regard to their teens’ driving habits can instill better, safer practices, what else can be done? And more importantly what should be done? This week the Journal has received letters from readers saying it’s time to make Placer High a closed campus. Others have argued against it. Does closing down the campus really make students safer? Can’t a wreck happen on the way to and from school? What about fender benders in the school parking lots? Points have been made that allowing students off campus teaches them skills that will be useful in everyday life — time management, budgeting. Plus, these students bring something to Downtown five days a week — business. If Placer High were to become a closed campus, how do you make it appealing to students? Food vendors on campus? Food trucks? While there are all kinds of ideas on how crashes such as these can best be avoided — some rather knee-jerk in nature — what it boils down to is using the incident as teaching tool and zeroing in on focus behind the wheel. As the victims from Friday’s accident know well as they recover from their injuries, all it takes is one quick moment for things to get out of control.