By Hannah Rowlette junior, Stafford High School
From Slurpees to Off-road Driving: Teen Drivers
I couldn’t wait to start driving. Okay, in THEORY I couldn’t wait to start driving. In reality, I was terrified. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get my permit until my mother told me to get in the car; we were going to the DMV.
The belief that teens think they’re invincible while driving is true. My friends had started getting their licenses and were convinced they were amazing drivers. I can tell you from firsthand experience—it wasn’t true.
Even if I acted like I couldn’t wait, I subconsciously knew the last thing I wanted to do was get behind the wheel of a 2,000 pound death machine. It’s like giving a toddler the keys to a tank and saying “Go have fun! Be home before 11!”
It was the lure of that Slurpee. The only reason I would have gotten behind the wheel of what I was sure would be the death of me. My mom knew it would be exactly the thing to get me driving.
Oh sure, I had taken Driver’s Ed. I knew (in theory) how to change a tire and adjust my mirrors. But sitting in a classroom is nothing compared to the real thing. Actually getting in the driver’s seat in a car and immediately feeling your parent pushing on their invisible brake. And let me tell you, my mother was worse than most.
She knew. Both my parents did. They knew that I would be “the trouble child.” The one they have to spend painstaking hours with in the passenger seat, saying over and over again “You have to look before you merge/turn/change lanes.”
Going from 7-Eleven to home was at most a mile. It involved three turns: one out of the 7-Eleven parking lot, one onto my street, and one onto my driveway. The speed limit was a mere 35 mph. And I still managed a near death experience.
“You’re doing fine, sweetie. Make sure you keep checking your speed, your rearview mirrors, your side mirrors, and your peripheral vision.” My mother’s instructions were unending. I thought I was doing well: I was only ten under the limit. I checked my speed, debating whether I should go faster at the risk of giving my mother a heart attack.
“HANNAH!” I looked up from the speedometer and realized I was driving off the road. Despite the whole “Don’t panic! Ease back on the road” mantra, I jerked the steering wheel to the left to avoid what I thought would be my death. What would you expect?
My mom sat in silence, restarting her heart. She gave me another chance—several actually. It wasn’t until a few weeks later that she said “Your father and I think you should hold off on driving for a while.”
She proceeded to tell me I was a danger to myself and others. I never denied it. Maybe it was a combination run red lights and stop signs and almost pancaked little old ladies that followed my off-roading experience.