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Getting that Drivers License

By Andy Maingam

I remember I started driving lessons at the first possible opportunity, but for some reason I got bored with my weekly runs around the town with the poky paced driving instructor sitting sternly beside me. I made a decision to quit after about 8 stints behind the wheel and got myself onto a large motorcycle instead. Well, after an accident that nearly killed me, and 5 months of hospitalization, I decided that a drivers license was perhaps not such a bad idea after all, and so resumed driving lessons as soon as I way physically able to do so.

That was way back in the 80’s and now that I have a young family of my own, I was overjoyed when my eldest son announced that he wanted to apply for the drivers license test. After showing an interest in the Yamaha R1 Superbike, I can’t tell you what a relief this was for his mother and I. The cost of learning was never an issue for her. Anything to keep him of those darn donor bikes as she refers to them.

However, as any parent knows, when one of your kids wants to learn to drive, it’s no cheap deal. Our family expenses are about to increase now that our son is in the process of getting his drivers license. He completed his classroom training and did pass his permit test. When I went to pick him up after the test he wanted to drive home. In our State you are allowed to drive with a permit, as long as there is an adult in the vehicle that has a drivers license. It was rush hour traffic and he had never operated the car before so I told him no.

My son is a very good kid and is respectful, so he did not argue or plead, however I could tell he was very disappointed at my negative response. He also hopes to study abroad next year and is hoping to get an international drivers license, so he know better than to jeopardize his chances of leaning to drive by throwing adolescent tantrums.

Once we were through the heavy traffic and about three miles from our home I pulled over and told my son that he could drive the rest of the way to our house. His face lit up and he gave me a hug as we exchanged seats. My son is several inches taller than I am so we went through him adjusting the seat so that he was comfortable. I then had him do a safety check of positioning the rearview and side mirrors. Next I told him to signal and to check for traffic. He did this and stepped on the accelerator. The engine roared but we stayed in place. He had forgotten to put the transmission into drive. He put the car in drive and started to pull a head and we heard a horn honking, he had not checked to see if a car was coming. By this time he was quite flustered and said maybe he should wait to drive until he had the behind the wheel training.

I did not want him to be afraid of driving so I told him that he could do this. He again signaled checked for traffic and pulled out. As we approached the right hand turn for our street I thought I would see what he would do. To my surprise he passed our turn off. I explained to him that I needed to get home with the groceries that were in the back seat. He said that he was going right home. I pointed out that he had missed the turn. He was so busy concentrating on steering, watching traffic and driving that he had not noticed where we were. He went around the block and eventually he did turn into our driveway. He told me he was surprised how much there is to think about when driving and that he hoped he would be able to get his drivers license.

When he said this I realize how little I pay attention when I am driving, especially routine routes. I have had my drivers license since I was 16 years old so the fundamentals of steering and signally and observing others on the road have become second nature to me. I think helping my son get his drivers license is going to improve my driving habits. I called our insurance agent to let him know that our son was going to be getting his drivers license. He told me that our insurance would go up significantly with a young male driver in the home.

Hmm! My advice to other parents is by all means help your kids learn to drive but only if you have the patience of a saint. I also think it’s very important to get a course of professional lessons in addition to the family tuition no matter how skilled your driving is. Many of us have gotten into bad driving habits over the years too, and we don’t really want to be passing them on to our kids.

I’m just glad we adults don’t have to take a drivers license renewal test periodically. I know my wife would be back on her bicycle if we did. In fact she often gets a random drivers license check by the traffic police simply because she’s so slow and cautious when out on the roads. As a result of her over precautious driving, she’s always got a long trail of frustrated motorists behind her at all times. Ribbing aside though, I thing getting a drivers license is a must in this day and age as it gives individuals independence and opportunities, so the sooner one learns to drive the better.

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