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Saturday, January 14, 2017

In the Driver's Seat: Kids on the Road

FIRST - if you are participating in my Ripley's giveaway, you can view the trailer for The Beat on Ruby's Street here:

The THIRD person to comment here at the end of this blog about the trailer will receive a free e-book!

In the Driver's Seat: Kids on the Road

I’m driving on a moderately busy road, but today hardly anyone is on it. The day before a huge snowstorm happened, and I am out today for a trial run before I go to a job interview. 

I do this because I don’t like driving and like getting lost even less. So it seems reasonable to go out in the middle of the morning the day after a monster snowstorm to minimize my stress on the following day.

Unfortunately for me I live in a city where snow is commonplace and most people are less afraid than I am to drive around in it. I grew up on the East Coast and had little occasion to drive because I was mostly in Boston and New York. 

Today I am going about 20 miles an hour and can tell the driver behind me is impatient. He is tailgating  and honking, so I speed up to get him to stop. Of course, he passes me anyway. And right then, my car hits a patch of snow that didn’t get plowed and goes into a spinout. 

The word sounds far prettier than it actually feels. What I do feel is my little Nissan Sentra spinning out of control and swerving all over the road like a mad bull in a rodeo. Luckily, no other cars are around, but it’s still a completely terrifying moment, soon made even more terrifying by the car swerving toward a steel pole on the side of the street.

I am airborne, and have no idea of where I will land.

I think this will probably end badly but cannot manage to do anything other than sit there, my heart pounding frantically. The next thing I know the car shoots up off the curb, but instead of hitting the pole it goes between that pole and another one and spins around once more until it lands, finally, in a nearly empty parking lot.

I have no idea if it missed the poles because I was able to steer it correctly, but that seems unlikely. Instead, it seems as though I survived this horrible adventure through nothing but dumb luck.

I stayed in that car for at least 20 minutes, waiting for my heart and spirit to calm down before driving on again. And I was way too scared to laugh.

I’m telling you this because incidents like this (and I had at least one other, plus a couple of highway accidents) have left me pretty much only able to drive the city streets, unless I’m on a very short stretch of highway for a few minutes.

Then, last year, my son and his friend were in a terrible car accident on an icy highway, with some careless truck drivers. Fortunately my son escaped with little injury while his friend broke her ankle in two places and spent months enduring a slow, arduous recovery.

None of this helps me feel better when either my son or his friends are on the road.

I am wondering how other people feel about their kids’ driving. Do they ever worry when their kids are late coming home from a party or do they just shrug and go to bed? Do you? What happens when you have more than one kid and they’re both learning to drive?

And HOW do you teach kids to drive safely in a snowstorm?

I don't have many answers, but one thing occurs to me as I think about this: kids are not the problem. The problem is people like the impatient driver who was tailgating me so persistently I thought I had to speed up--and ended by endangering my life (and possibly someone else's).

I think it's worth pointing out the tailgating driver was NOT a teen. He was an adult (or was supposed to be). And I don't see how we can teach our teens to drive well until people like him start taking responsibility for how they're driving.

In other words, it's the grownups who need watching. Always is.


If you still want driving tips for teens, though, check out these articles: