Driving is a great new experience for teen drivers, and it may be quite scary to the parents that have to teach them. I finally turned 16 this past April and went out that day and got my learner’s permit. I thought I basically knew how to drive a car from playing endless hours of “Need for Speed, Midnight Club” and driving around my dad’s lawn mower. As soon as I got behind the wheel in a vacant parking lot, I realized I had a lot to learn.
Unlike “Need for Speed,” you can’t drive around corners at breakneck speeds and you have to stop for red lights. I pressed the gas too hard, my turns were too wide and I rode the brake pedal. Forget backing up. I didn’t even look behind me when I slammed the car in reverse and proceeded to lurch backward. I have learned a lot though in my seven months of driving. Drivers education at a local school really helped me throughout the summer. I had great teachers who really enjoyed teaching other people how to drive.
Here are just few tips I have learned so far from driving with my parents:
• When you see a stop sign and you are far away from the sign, just slow down instead of saying “I know” because this irritates your parents to no end. Your parents have probably been driving for the past 20 to 40 years and they don’t know what you know or don’t. Stop signs are pretty obvious, but I’ve seen drivers go through them.
• When you get behind the wheel, you are taking on a huge responsibility, therefore don’t act like it’s a big joke. Your life and the lives of others are at stake. You also need to watch carefully for other drivers who don’t follow the rules of the road. Even everything your parents do isn’t always right. My parents will usually admit that they did something wrong if I call them out on it. When the driving manual says one thing and your parents tell you to do something else, explain to them what the book says. Most adult drivers aren’t aware of the things that are in the new manuals.
Every time I get into the driver’s seat, my dad says, “Pay attention.” I’d shrug it off and say, “Yeah, I know.” But there have been a few times when a dog, deer or another car did something crazy, and if I hadn’t been paying attention, something bad would have happened.
• Keep distractions out of the car while you’re driving. Put your cellphone in the backseat so if it vibrates to let you know you have a text you won’t be tempted to look at it. Your parents probably won’t let you listen to the radio and don’t let them either until you are sure of what you are doing when you drive.
• When you get into the car, make sure you know where all accessories of the car are located; it isn’t just the gas, brake and steering wheel you need to use. And before you leave the car, make sure it’s in park. I’ve turned the car off and it was rolling toward the garage and I didn’t even realize it.
You will make mistakes, so try to learn from them because it will help make you a better driver.
Most things come with time. You can’t expect to drive as well as someone who has been driving for 20 years. I’ve been driving for seven months and I still don’t park the car right all the time, and parallel parking is out of the question.
Just stay calm, shut up and drive.
Desiree Nagel is a home-schooled junior from Forestville.