Attention all drivers!!! Whether you realize it or not, on any given day, there are a whole bunch beginner drivers sitting behind the wheels in the cars driving in front of, behind, and beside you while you are out on the road.
Up until recently, I really hadn't given it that much thought myself, but now that my daughter is preparing to take her road test soon - I think about it A LOT!
My husband and I decided that I would be the one to teach her to drive. We came to this decision after we found out that our auto insurance company does not give a discount off insurance if she took driving lessons with a driving school. We will be able to get a good student discount, though.
Another deciding factor for my teaching her to drive was the fact that most driving schools charge close to $300 for only six 2-hour lessons. Although the first few times we hit the road were very nerve-wracking for me, so far, she is doing great! She has picked it up quickly and thankfully we haven't had any serious "close calls."
Naturally, I have required my daughter to abide by the speed limits and to even go slightly slower while she is still learning to navigate the road. Better to be safe, than sorry, right?
Although she is doing very well, my biggest concern has been the rude and impatient behavior of other more seasoned drivers. The first few times I took her out to practice we encountered several other drivers who beeped their horns at us.
Think back to when you were learning to drive and someone did this to you — or, even now as an adult, when you have hesitated slightly after a light turns green, because you have a million things on your mind, and the person behind you leans on their horn. Aaahhh!!! That is so unnerving!!!
As a protective parent, all I can think is: "Really, folks?! Is that necessary? Are you in that much of a hurry?"
FYI: Out of courtesy for other drivers, I have not had her on the road during rush hour. I know what it is like to be late for work and get stuck behind a pokey driver . . . infuriating!
In an attempt to dissuade hostility from other drivers, I thought that maybe people would be nicer if they knew that someone was learning to drive in my vehicle. So, I went to a craft store and bought some fluorescent orange duct tape and made a sign that says "STUDENT DRIVER" on it and stuck it on the back of my van.
For the most part, it seems to be working! Now the majority of drivers appear to stay much farther back while driving behind us. On occasion, though, we have continued to have some horns beeped at us. I guess maybe that's because the horn-beepers either don't know how to read, or unfortunately, don't really give a hoot about being kind.
It is comical to watch the expressions of curious drivers who pull up alongside me while stopped at a traffic light. They peer into catch of glimpse of the "student" — when I am the one behind the wheel!
I know they are thinking: "Isn't she a little old to be learning to drive?"
Some people have asked me if I am now running a driver's training school, or if it is legal to have that sticker on my van. I guess it is okay. More than one Johnston Police officer has driven behind us, and they didn't seem to have a issue with it.
Remember when the "BABY ON-BOARD" signs were big quite a few years ago? I hung one in the window back then to ward off reckless drivers when my kids were little. So, it is really the same idea, because although my daughter is now 16 years old, to me, she is still precious cargo.
I still want other drivers to give us some space so that she will be safe, and on a more philosophical note, this whole experience of teaching her to drive, has not only been a right of passage for my daughter — but for me, as well.
It is a major developmental milestone, comparable, maybe, to when she was learning to walk or wave "bye-bye."
My beautiful daughter is learning to be more self-sufficient and independent — and I am trying to learn to let her go. In a mere few weeks from now, when she has her driver's license in hand, she will be able to drive away on her own, and I will be the one left standing in the driveway waving "Goodbye."