When I was finally old enough to get my driver’s license I suspect that my parents were so tired of me asking if I could drive the car that they probably would’ve let me drive whether I passed the test or not.
To say I was eager to get my drivers license would be like referring to a category 5 hurricane as a slight breeze. I really wanted to start driving and I would constantly ask them if I could go practice. To my parents’ relief, I passed the test. Getting my license was everything I hoped it would be — and to this day I still love to drive. In fact, my wife and I participated in a 6,000-mile road rally this summer with other driving enthusiasts and when we finally got home I was ready to jump back in the car and do it again. I enjoy driving that much.
So,when my oldest son announced he would be getting his license this year, I suppose I should have known what to expect—constant chatter about driving, regular requests for a few “practice laps” and unrealistic hopes about getting his own car for his birthday.
As familiar as it all was to me, this time around I was experiencing it from a parent’s point of view. And boy was that different. When my son talked about driving, I would think about the dangers and responsibilities. When he asked for practice time, I imagined speeding tickets and fender benders. When he told me he wanted a car for his birthday, I laughed out loud.
It seems like I was a lot older when I was his age (I was certainly more mature…wasn’t I?). How can someone who can’t remember to put the milk back in the fridge be entrusted with a 4,000-pound automobile? These are the thoughts that coursed through my mind (And don’t get me started on the nightmares I had while trying to sleep at night…).
Don’t forget the small stuff. Make sure to practice pulling up to banks, fast food drive-thrus and fuel pumps. These are common situations where dents and dings occur, so help your new driver understand how to navigate them and what to watch out for.
Vary the driving situations. Give your new driver practice at nighttime, dusk, rush hour, etc. A simple 25 mph neighborhood street can be much more dangerous when the sun is in your eyes and small children are playing close to the road. Different times of day and traffic patterns require the driver to be aware of different surroundings and distractions.
Be a good example. You should always set a good example and while your child is learning to drive, they are watching you closely. Make sure you are being the rule- and law-abiding driver you expect them to be. For example, come to a complete stop, don’t speed up through the yellow traffic signals and be courteous to other drivers.
We practiced. He studied for the tests. And before I knew it, our family had gained another licensed driver.
I woke up the next morning and despite my dire predictions, the sun still shined, the birds still tweeted, and my mortgage was still due at the beginning of each month. And now we’ve got someone else who can drive back to the store to pick up that gallon of milk I left in the shopping cart…