A Rite of Passage: The 16 Year Old and Her Driver’s License

CalmThe day I turned 15 and a ½, I signed up for Driver’s Ed.  My Dad would drop me off after school and I would spend 3 hours learning about the horrors of driving.  The images of totaled cars wrapped around trees, drunk driven cars in the middle of living rooms, and of course, the requisite picture of a completely immobilized persons in hospital beds.

Even though the class did its best to persuade us to never get our own driver’s license … my parents decided it was time for me to overcome my fears of becoming Driver’s Ed fodder and learn how to drive.  (Probably so they could stop driving me all of town for random things like Drivers Ed classes.)

And other than that one mishap where I confused the gas pedal for the break pedal … I think I learned successfully.

Then day I turned 16, my Dad did one last obligatory drive to the BMV.  I passed the written portion of the exam with flying colors (ie. perfect score other than that one question about how long it takes a semi truck to brake in the rain.  I don’t know.  I’ve never driven a semi.  And wouldn’t it depend on how much rain and whether or not the truck had adequate brakes?  All things that I feel were not taken into consideration on the question).

Next up was the driving portion of the exam.  The grumpy instructor greeted me with a grunt and climbed in to my ford station wagon.  But I think he had a right to be grumpy.  After all, he willingly put his life in the hands of an enthusiastic 16 year old barely ever driven driver.  At least we stayed off the expressway.  I suppose you can only get in so much trouble when the average speed of your trip is 25 miles per hour.

I’m happy to report that the only part of the driving exam that I failed was remembering to turn on my blinkers when parallel parking.  And I guess I didn’t learn the lesson because I still always forget to turn on my blinkers when braving the act of parking between two cars.  I’m to busy trying, you know, not to hit the other car!

Then the real fun started.  I got to take over the joys of driving siblings and self to school everyday.  This meant that I was in charge of the leaving.  If I needed more time in the morning, my sisters were just going to have to be late with me.  And if I wanted to stay and socialize… actually, 16 year old me didn’t really like socializing.  So the more realistic situation was if my sisters wanted to stay and socialize after work … too bad so sad.

Thus is the power of a driver’s license in the hands of a 16 year old.

It might be time to consider raising the minimum age for a license to something more like 30.  But parents every where would revolt.

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