The deal with driving


My 18-year-old daughter got her license about a week ago in California while staying with her Nanna. The way I deal with it is, I don’t.

Wait a minute. Since arriving here she does drive our car, yes. Her very favorite thing so far is picking up her 15-year-old brother from the high school she used to attend. I’m told his friends think she is “hot.” High accolades indeed from a subset of boys she used to lightly scorn.

When I say I don’t deal with “it” I mean I do not drive in the car with her while she is behind the wheel. This is not cruelty, it is not meant to deride her, it is merely a plan to preserve our mother-daughter relationship and my own sanity all at the same time. Talk about killing birds.

I am of the mind that the world I live in is too crowded, too hurried and too lawless for teenagers to be licensed drivers. However these graduated licenses where the first 6 months the new driver is allowed only one person in the car with them and can’t drive after a certain hour have made huge dents in the accident rates for young drivers. Restrictions vary by state but teen-driving death rates have reduced dramatically.

But, some states allow an unrestricted license after age 18 and such is the case with California. Luckily our girl obtained a permit to practice driving and did so for 3 months prior to obtaining her freedom pass. Now studies are showing that states that allow immediate licensing after age 18, training be damned are also showing climbing death rates for 18-year-old drivers. Hum.

In seven years my husband and I have been in 4 wrecks, none of them our fault and all of them on the same half-mile stretch of road near our house. I, in fact, got in a wreck about a week ago while a young girl mistakenly pulled out into traffic, scraping almost the entire passengers side of my car. My son who was sitting in the passenger’s seat now has a mild form of PTSD in that he starts when cars approach our vehicle.

About a year and a half ago I was overturned in my car while driving to pick up my daughter from school. I’ll tell you the good thing about that wreck was I no longer have to convince my son of the importance of seat belts. Those accidents were barely a quarter-mile apart and my top speed was 35-miles-an-hour.

Charlotte, North Carolina’s streets wind like brain tissue with buses and garbage trucks meandering and stopping semi-regularly on clogged roads even during rush hour. Cars pull in and out of private and business driveways into streets clogged with people who should have been at their destinations five minutes ago. So yes, besides the fact I am already a little high-strung when it comes to driving, I’m really nervous with my children behind the wheel.

I remember how aggravated I became when my mother tensed up as I maneuvered our gold Oldsmobile through those manicured residential streets. Now, I’m five times worse than my mom. So I just don’t get in the car with HRD when she is driving. We’d argue and I’d probably make her nervous. So far she just drives the 5 mile radius around the neighborhood.

Slow and steady wins the race, honey. (I’m not implying there is a race however. Nope. Keep her slow. No need to speed. Slow down. Love, Mom.)





3 responses »

  1. Ah, yes, I remember very well the anxiety when your daughter’s father took our car when he was a teenager. I spent many weary nights awaiting his safe return and the car intact. Not too many dents and fortunately no serious wrecks involving injuries. A year later I had the same anxiety when his brother took off in the car. A mother never stops worrying no matter how old the “child”!

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