Each day of the year, young drivers take to the streets for the first time, passing through that North American rite of passage, and coming one step closer to adulthood.
While the story of a young driver being handed their first set of keys often conjures images of freedom and independence, it is important for them to show caution while learning the ways of the road.
Jake Steele, who began driving on the family farm at the age of 12, was in his first vehicle accident as a driver when he was 15, while driving down a gravel road near home.
“I was going way too fast and caught the soft shoulder, which caused the car to swerve,” said Steele in an interview.
The vehicle rolled onto its roof, knocked Steele unconscious, and ejected him partially out the side window.
When Steele regained consciousness, he managed to pull himself out of the vehicle and to a nearby field, where he was able to flag down his cousin for help.
While Steele recovered from the broken pelvis he sustained in this accident, he did not walk away unchanged.
“I wish I had known the dangers of driving on poorly-cared-for gravel roads,” he said.
He also warned young drivers not to be overconfident.
“Just respect the vehicle you are in control of.
“All it takes is one mistake and you could be in a very serious accident.”
Young driver Owen Vickers was in his first accident only a week after receiving his first car as a graduation gift.
“You have to learn what distracts you easily, and try to avoid that until you know how to pay attention to the road,” said Vickers.
The car, it turned out, needed to have its brakes replaced, so Vickers scheduled an appointment to coincide with a movie showing he was planning to attend with his friends.
On the way to the theatre, a friend in the vehicle distracted Vickers as they were approaching a red light, causing Vickers to miscalculate the distance he would need to stop with the aging brake pads.
Vickers’ car then rear-ended a Jeep stopped at the red light.
“Looking back at it, I shouldn’t have scheduled a movie outing before I fixed the car.
“I should’ve been more experienced in driving, as I was easily distracted and didn’t have a good feel for the car yet.”
Brandon Hawboldt, 24, learned at the young age of 16 that a moment’s lapse in judgment could quickly add up to a costly bill for young drivers.
Hawboldt’s first accident took place in a parking lot when his vehicle hooked the bumper of another vehicle and pulled it off.
You need to respect driving like it has something to teach you. – Brandon Hawboldt
“I wish I had known that causing $1,500 worth of damage would have increased my premium by $1,400 per year for three years,” Hawboldt said.
“When you start driving, you want to learn everything you can.
“You might think you know everything, and maybe you do, but you need to respect driving like it has something to teach you. Slow down, pay attention, and be realistic with yourself about what you are comfortable with.”