Are college students bad drivers?

Brayden Miller, Staff Writer

It is easy to take for granted how convenient it is to be able to drive to the MAX, downtown or to a store whenever the urge strikes, with the only real limit being how much you are willing to shell out for gas. With how natural being able to drive might feel, it can also be easy to forget how much of a responsibility it is to be able to operate an automobile. The slightest slip or lapse in attention can — and often does — lead to disastrous results.

According to the National Security Council, young and college-aged drivers are significantly more likely to be in a car crash than people in other age demographics. Unfortunately, this means GC students might be more susceptible than most to these kinds of accidents. It is a very sobering thought, but it begets the question of what is actually causing car accidents. Perhaps a relative lack of driving experience is what makes college students more likely to crash.

The alarming disparity between those two figures paints an unflattering picture of the driving ability of younger drivers. Youthful inexperience is far from the only possible cause of car accidents, though. After all, many older individuals are still involved in crashes, which are typically attributed to distracted driving.

In the modern world we live in, there is a nearly infinite number of things a GC motorist could potentially be distracted by. From the actions of friends and peers to the exploits of the many stray cats on campus, there is no shortage of things to draw the eye. 

But, perhaps foremost among driving distractions is the all-encompassing mobile phone. Using a GPS on your phone has become the new standard for navigation, and of course, there is always the temptation to text or check social media during red lights.

Phone usage while driving grew to be such an issue that then-governor Nathan Deal moved to stymy it, signing the Hands-Free Georgia Act into law in 2018. This made it illegal to hold or touch a mobile device while driving. The threat of legal repercussions may be enough to stop some potentially irresponsible drivers, but not all.

One of the most irresponsible choices someone can make while driving is choosing to get behind the wheel while under the influence. Drunk driving is something of a provocative subject, so people are bound to hear about it relatively often. Due to their scandalous nature, DUIs tend to end up dominating local news and gossip when they happen.

However, despite how often they come up in conversation, Sarah Crowder, freshman criminal justice major, is unsure whether DUI incidents are as common as they might seem to be.

“I’m not sure,” Crowder said. “I’ve heard the bus goes downtown at midnight to pick up people who are drunk.”

Despite only transferring recently, Crowder has heard a lot about the ways GC provides safer alternatives for getting home after a night out, such as the late-night bus line. Though, she also seems to doubt that students would always choose to take advantage of those alternatives, especially if their decision making is compromised by alcohol.

“There will always be some who’ll think, ‘Oh, I’ll be fine,’” Crowder said.

People often feel a sense of distance between them and what happens on the news. It is often much easier to dismiss what happens and say that it will never happen to you. But, that kind of refusal to contemplate unpleasant possibilities can often beget dangerous choices.

The dangers posed by car crashes are manyfold, from death and injury to soul-crushing traffic jams. There is likely no clear-cut, immediate solution for stopping these accidents. There is no way, except for time, to beat inexperience, mobile devices seem to be here to stay and getting everyone to kick their alcohol habit is easier said than done. 

The only thing that can really be done as an individual is to make an effort to be the most responsible driver you can be —  if not for your own safety or the safety of others, then for the poor souls who would be stuck in traffic following the accident.