EDITORIAL: Stop stereotyping teens as terrible drivers

Rachel Davis, Kelsey Spurrier, Julie Lowe, Staff

Over the weekend, two Plano teenagers were killed when their Porsche SUV hit the median and crashed into a tree.

Instead of sympathy, blame poured in.

How could their parents trust them to drive? Didn’t they know they would speed? Why were they allowed out by themselves in that car?

“Porsche makes a great vehicle. All kinds of safety features. All that technology, but they cannot auto-correct stupid,” one commenter wrote in response to an article about the accident in “The Dallas Morning News.” “Rest in Peace, try again in the next life. Hopefully, it’s a lesson learned.”

Adults like the revoltingly insensitive commenter above — and there were many others who echoed his thoughts — say that teen driving is deadly, stereotyping young motorists as the sole perpetrators of recklessness on the road. Some critics have even gone so far as to argue that driving should be restricted to those 18 and older. 

If we can take the most dangerous drivers off the road,” drive-safely.net suggests, “we will not only save the lives of young adults, but we will also make the roadways safer for everyone else.”

But according to MADD.org, drunk driving is the most significant cause of traffic deaths in the country, and the highest percentage of fatal drunk driving accidents occur in drivers ages 21-24. Statisticbrain.com reports that nearly 112,000 people each day receive speeding tickets, and it’s doubtful that all — or even half — of those are teenagers. And a 2012 survey found that despite the common misconception that teens are responsible for the majority of distracted driving incidents, those 21-24 are most likely to read or send a text while behind the wheel.

There’s no doubt that teens can drive recklessly, and those bad habits should be addressed. But let’s be realistic about the blame teens deserve when it comes to dangerous driving. Looking at the statistics, it could just as easily be an older sibling or parent who is wreaking havoc behind the wheel.

And let’s also remember that sensitivity in the face of tragedy is something we all can — and should — practice, regardless of age.