I’m going on a drive or two. Why don’t you hop in the car and come along. I’ve written another post about what it’s like to drive with new drivers. Since most parents will likely experience this thrilling adventure eventually, I’d like to take you along on a couple of my experiences. So Buckle up… it’s going to be quite a ride!
Drive #1: Pedestrians
We are driving along when I see people walking in the road up ahead. (One might argue that these people should not be walking in the road, but that would be another blog post.) These people are a distance away, but close enough that we should begin to slow down.
“There are people walking in the road up ahead,” I inform the teen driver.
“I see them,” the teen replies. We continue moving at the same rate of speed.
“You should slow down,” I instruct.
“I am,” the teen driver informs me. I feel no difference in the speed we are traveling.
“SLOW DOWN!!” I snap.
“MOM!” the teen replies. “I AM slowing down. I’m not going to HIT them!!”
Drive #2: Highways
Highways are always a bit dicey. After all, highway driving requires a consistent high rate of speed, which most people who have only been driving for a month or two are not used to. Add in the occasional need for an evasive maneuver and, well, it’s not always pretty. On this drive, the traffic is fairly heavy. We are driving through a “city,” so vehicles are entering and exiting the highway. We are approaching an entrance ramp, and there is an 18 wheeler getting onto the highway.
“That truck going to need to merge,” I say to my teen driver. The truck is far bigger than the car we are in.
“I see it,” my teen driver says.
“So… you might want to give him space so he can get in here,” I nudge.
“It’s his job to merge with me,” the teen informs me. This is information learned in driving class.
“I understand that,” I say. “But he is bigger than you.” And coming up fast, I want to add.
“That doesn’t matter, Mom,” the teen states. “I am in this lane, and he has to merge.”
“Yes,” I say, beginning to get impatient. “But he doesn’t seem to be slowing down. He wants to get in this lane, and it doesn’t seem to matter that you are here.”
“He can merge with me,” the teen is emphatic, but I see that the trucker clearly has no intention of “merging” with anyone. He owns the road he is not yet on.
“GIVE HIM ROOM!!” I raise my voice. “He is much bigger than you, and he is NOT stopping!”
“He was supposed to merge with me,” the teen grumbles. “I am in this lane.” While I can’t argue with my teen’s knowledge of the laws and right of way, there is something to be said for “an ounce of prevention….” Especially in the case of a vehicle that is many times bigger than the one you are in.
Drive #3: Medians
Sometimes, learning about medians can be an interesting adventure. Pulling out of a shopping plaza with a very new driver means the teen is not yet even paying attention to things like medians. We are at a four-way intersection of several parking lots as we are leaving a restaurant, and my teen is driving.
“Turn left here,” I say, not even thinking that there are two possibilities. My teen does as I say, turning left and completely missing the “keep right” sign. We end up to the left of the median.
“STOP!” I say, and the teen stops the car and looks at me.
I am simultaneously breathing a sigh of relief and laughing at the situation. “Back up.” I point to the median out my passenger window. “You need to be on the other side of this median. See those cars?” I point to the intersection up ahead. “They are going to be coming in here.”
“Oh. Well, you told me to turn left, so I did.” Thankfully, everyone in the car thinks this is marginally funny. “You didn’t tell me I had to go to the other side of the median.”
“No, I did not. My bad,” I say, as we readjust into the correct lane and continue on our way.
Drive #4: Impatience
We are driving on a two-lane road. We are observing the exact speed limit. I will be the first to admit, the speed limit feels a bit slow on this road, but kudos to the driver for maintaining a consistent and perfect speed.
The car behind us does not appreciate driving the speed limit. It has been on our bumper since we turned on this road. I don’t believe the teen driver has noticed, but I have.
Suddenly, the car behind us pulls out into the other lane and speeds past us. The teen driver slows to allow him easier passage in what is a no passing zone.
“Well, he’s in a hurry!” the teen comments, accelerating back to the speed limit.
Hey, thanks for coming along for the ride! These teen drivers, my first two… they have been somewhat easy to teach. My youngest, he’ll be driving in just a few short months (nine to be exact, but who’s counting?) I’m a bit concerned about that one. He is already calculating how fast my car can go without self-destructing….