Street Racing Kills Again

Every year, it's the same thing: once the nice weather comes, young drivers (males predominantly) get behind the wheel and drive their vehicles on regular streets and highways as if they are on a raceway. Why not? They know what they are doing; they can handle their vehicle. Only, they find out that they can't handle their vehicle, and the results are tragic.

Sometimes, the young driver dies. More often it seems, it is innocent by-standers who die.

In my morning newspaper, the Toronto Star has an article on the latest victim of testosterone and speed. The two drivers charged in the incident are 19 and 20 year old males. David Virgoe, the man who died, was a trucker with a spotless driving record who is being hailed as a hero; his decision to ditch his big rig (and cause his own death) probably saved tens of others who would have died if his truck had passed the center median and gone into oncoming traffic.

In the same newspaper, there is another article on the outcry against dangerous driving, and the way that car advertising promotes this kind of driving with advertising that glorifies speed and extreme driving techniques. Yes, there are "disclaimers" on those fancy television ads with gleaming cars, reminding us about professional stunt drivers and closed tracks -- in small print at the bottom of the screen. But don't they make that fast and furious driving look good? The cars are shiny and the drivers are lean and sexy. And it all looks as if you could do it on regular city streets.

It's got so bad that even the Vatican feels compelled to get into the act. We now have the 10 commandments of driving, if you can believe it. The first one? You shall not kill. Guess our two young driving daredevils have broken that one.

All this makes it tough for young drivers who are careful and responsible. But it does explain why young drivers pay such astronomical insurance premiums and why it's so hard to get insurance for teenagers. The percentage of accidents that are caused by young drivers is much higher than for most other driving groups, and the perception of invincibility makes them much more dangerous.

Not all young male drivers deserve the high rates they pay. If you are a parent looking for insurance for a trustworthy young driver, consider looking into programs that reduce rates with certain conditions. Make sure your young driver takes a defensive driving course; this can often reduce premiums. And if your young driver wants to race -- encourage them to do it on a raceway and not a highway.

Monique L. Attinger 

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