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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: I recently read in the paper another account of a young life lost in a car accident. I live within 30 miles of two universities, and I can't begin to tell you how many accidents of this kind we have each year. The young driver wasn't drinking or speeding. She was reaching down to pick up a CD she had dropped. She swerved off the road, overcorrected, and slammed into another vehicle. She and her passenger were killed instantly. The people in the car she struck were lucky; they were only badly bruised and shaken.

My husband is a tow truck driver who often has to gather up what is left after one of these senseless accidents. Our hearts break for the friends and families of these precious young people. Please, Abby, remind drivers of every age: Do not try to find something you have dropped, change the radio station, tape or CD, read, apply makeup, shave, or dial a cell phone with one hand while you are driving! It takes only a second or a glance away from the road to drift and lose control of your car. -- BECAUSE I CARE, COLFAX, WASH.

DEAR BECAUSE: Younger drivers are particularly at risk for this type of accident because they are more easily distracted and less experienced at regaining control of a vehicle -- but everyone should heed your warning.

The law in 49 states now mandates that everyone in an automobile wear seat belts, and that has saved many lives. However, nothing is as important as paying full attention to the task at hand -- and that means keeping both eyes on the road and both hands firmly on the wheel.

DEAR ABBY: I have been dating "Ashley" for three years. During this time we have learned a great deal about each other, have compromised on many issues, and are very close to getting married.

There is one issue that stands in the way. Ashley feels that it is OK to keep secrets from each other. By secrets, I don't mean things from the past, but current day-to-day matters. For example, when I ask who she was talking to after she hangs up the phone, or inquire about her activities if we haven't seen each other for a few days, she thinks I'm prying.

I don't think I can ever trust someone who withholds things from me. I feel that for two people to be really close, there can be no secrets. Her withholding creates a sense of insecurity in me. Abby, is it normal for people in a relationship to withhold information from each other? -- SECRETLY WONDERING

DEAR WONDERING: If you cannot stop questioning her and she is unable to be more forthcoming, the two of you are facing a serious obstacle. I urge you to seek counseling and resolve it before you marry.

If you trust her, you should not need to know to whom she was talking every time she hangs up the phone, nor should you grill her about her activities in your absence. On the other hand, part of a healthy level of communication between couples is the sharing of information through normal conversation.

Remember, there is a difference between keeping secrets and maintaining privacy.

DEAR ABBY: Your response to the New York woman who was uncomfortable with her husband's sexy dance moves with other women made my blood boil. Advising her to take dancing lessons so she'd be a more appealing partner harkens back to the 1950s when women were made to accept all the responsibility for relationships.

Wake up and smell the coffee! This is NOT about her skills on the dance floor. It's about his selfish desire to have it all -- the stimulation and ego-gratification that comes with dancing with other women, and the safety and security of marriage and home once the party ends. If he truly loved her, as he claims, he would not persist in a behavior that he knows makes her unhappy and uncomfortable.

She doesn't need dance lessons. He needs psychotherapy to find out why he continues this subtly sadistic, passive-aggressive behavior toward a woman who obviously loves him. -- SIOUX CITY READER

DEAR SIOUX CITY: You're not the only reader who thought I let the husband off the hook too easily. However, my impression was that the husband simply loved to dance, and his wife was reading more into his dance style than was warranted.

What teens need to know about sex, drugs, AIDS, and getting along with peers and parents is in "What Every Teen Should Know." To order, send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Teen Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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