"Safety Doesn’t Happen By Accident”

Hello again everyone! In my last blog post I re-lived a glimpse of my crowning moment for you all. This post is strictly about the purpose behind the crown; my platform. My platform title is “Safety Doesn’t Happen  By Accident” and it deals with the Graduated Drivers Licensing program for teens. Since I’m guessing this is the first you are hearing about the GDL let me give you a little background information. The state of California was the first state to enact a GDL and my family played a huge part in pushing this act through. The official name of the bill is the Brady-Jared Teen Drivers Safety Act 1997; Brady was a 15 year old girl who was killed by a drunk driver; Jared, my cousin, was a 13 year old boy who was killed when a teenage driver made a fatal decision. This was the first time Jared had ever been allowed to ride in a car with a teenage driver and unfortunately this teen’s mistake cost Jared his life. The car he was riding in was approaching the top of a hill and the driver decided he wanted to try and pass the car in front of him. He crossed the center line and didn’t think twice about an approaching car from the other lane. He swerved and their car was broadsided. Jared was killed on impact.

I can’t even begin to describe to you the emotional trauma a family goes through after an event like this. The five stages of grief don’t even come close to shedding insight. Denial. Anger. Bargaining. Depression. Acceptance. A part of me wonders if you are ever able to truly reach the stage of acceptance. Sure some days will be better than others, but the ever impeding fact that your loved one is gone never truly seems to set. When asked to list some hero’s in my life a lot of names come to mind. Debra, Lee, Brittany, Austin, and Jordan are five that really stand out when talking about Jared. Debra and Lee (my aunt and uncle) were able to take the worst possible scenario for any parent and turn that into an example. Through the telling of their story they were able to help enact the Brady-Jared Teen Drivers Safety Act 1997, and make sure that they made every effort to prevent any other family from having to go through what they went through. I marvel at their impeccable amount of courage and faith, and while I still wonder if acceptance ever truly sets in, I now like to think that there is different name for that fifth stage of grief; faith. Every day you need to have faith that our God has reasons beyond our understanding. Every day you need to have faith that God would never give you anything you couldn’t handle. And every day you need to have faith that love conquers all. The night Jared died Deb and Lee lost a son. Brittany, Austin, and Jordan lost a brother. And the rest of our family lost a grandson, nephew, and cousin. Each and every day you are missed Jared. I will never truly understand God’s reasoning for why he took you from us. All we can do is have faith in God that he had bigger plans for you in heaven.

My reasoning behind choosing this platform is obvious. I don’t want any other family to experience the pain my family went through. My goal is to spread awareness about the Graduated Driver’s Licensing Act. As of January 1st North Dakota was the final state to adopt this act. Teen drivers now have a stricter set of guidelines to follow before acquiring a driver’s license. Some of these rules include having their permits for a year (instead of 6 months), practicing driving in all weather conditions, limited numbers of passengers, restricted times of the day to drive, and many others. The enactment of the GDL is a step towards keeping teenage drivers safe. A step I wish California had taken 18 years ago. A step that might have saved Jared’s life.

  Miss Teen ND Int'l 2012

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