Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Teenaged Drivers
I read this editorial in today's Globe by Eileen MacNamara. She talks about teenagers causing deaths as a preventable tragedy. How do we prevent it? Teenagers who live in suburban neighborhoods need to drive. It got me thinking about neighborhoods in general.

Teenagers do pretty much everything recklessly. Combine that with inexperience behind the wheel and that person is dangerous. It takes years to really learn how to drive safely. The problem is compounded by the fact that so many of us in this country live in relative isolation in the suburbs. We are distanced from public transportation and recreation by distances that can only be traversed by car. If we focused the suburbs into walkable neighborhoods with movie theaters and coffeshops clustered in the midst of houses teenagers wouldn't have to drive so much to have lives.

I grew up in Cambridge. By the time I was 20 I knew 10 or 15 people my age that had died. None of them in car accidents. I lost friends to cancer, gunshots and hiking accidents, but none of them were behind the wheel when they died. Why? Because we lived in an urban area with a decent public transportation system. Most of my peer group didn't get their licenses until they were in college. There was simply no need. Our parents tended to have one family car, so the people that did drive had very limited access to cars.

It's just another reason to put safe sidewalks into the suburbs. Just another reason to rethink our complete dependence on cars.

This from the woman with the gimpy knee who's been driving into Boston to get to work!


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