Herald-Journal Herald and Journal, February 16, 1998

The joy of driver's training


Last week on one of the TV news magazine shows, they had an interesting story on the dangers of teen-age driving.

The youthful drivers they showed were all inattentive, speeding, and fooling around when driving with friends in the car. It was the kind of story that strikes fear in the heart of any parent.

I have "ridden shotgun" with our six teen-aged drivers. I now maintain that I thought potty training was the most difficult job a parent could tackle- until driver training came along!

Our first experience at driver training was not too bad. Our oldest daughter was fairly level-headed and not too headstrong about taking our instructions behind the wheel.

The real fun began when we had two students to practice with, two years later.

Our son is hard-of-hearing, and we were somewhat reluctant to turn him loose too early. He started driver training with his younger sister, a year behind him in age.

Being a farm family and busy with chores, we did not always find time for driving practice. Our usual practice method was to have one of the novice drivers pilot the family car on the way to church, and the other on the way back.

When I say pilot here, I am talking about a family of eight in a 10-passenger station wagon. Now imagine this large vehicle full of people hurtling down Highway 12 toward Delano.

Behind the wheel is a young person with just enough driving knowledge to think they know it all. (You remember, you were 16 once, too.)

In the car are two parents, one of whom becomes car sick easily. Also occupying the car is the experienced, older sibling, who is convinced the younger drivers know nothing. She has been warned to keep silent.

Belted in the back for safety are the three younger siblings who are complaining about the jerking of the car. Add to this mix the fact that one of the younger children has inherited their parent's car-sickness gene.

In those days I never prayed so much in church as I did riding to and from!

We all survived those days of driving together, and I learned two things from my teen-aged drivers.

1. Always wear your seatbelt.

2. If we are going somewhere together, Mom's driving.

If I'm going to feel sick I can at least be in control of the car!

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