Driving: Hitting the Road (And Nothing Else)

“I changed the beep of my car horn to the sound of gunshots. People move out of the way a lot faster now!”


I consider myself behind the times: I never sat behind the wheel of a car until I was almost sixteen, and that was my first time EVER driving it anywhere (in this case, in circles in a parking lot).

That was in January of 10th grade. Getting my permit a week later took about four hours (luckily I ran into a friend to keep me from dying of boredom) and I didn’t really put it to good use until the start of this summer. I mean, I drove on the highway and stuff, but not unless it was in the morning with relatively few cars.

If you’ve never driven a car, let me tell you how it was for me: at first, scary. The brakes on our family vehicle were a tad more sensitive than I’d expected…I was convinced touching a toe to the pedal with too much enthusiasm would send me through the windshield.

The gas pedal was a slightly shinier side of the same coin. During my first two times driving in a parking lot I refused to hit it, and when I finally did I almost sent us through a fence. So I had evolved from sending people flying forward to torpedoing the entire vehicle.

And then in that summer came…Driver’s Ed.


If you haven’t taken Driver’s Ed yet, I wish you luck. Who knows? Maybe you’ll have an animated, cool instructor who fills you with invaluable information and whips you up into a driving pro that Ricky-Bobby would be jealous of.

As for me, I got to sit through three hours times ten days of discussions about “risk.”

It wasn’t my instructor’s fault…she was funny, and instead of stretching out the ten hours’ worth of material into the required thirty, she made sure it was in our brains, then spent the rest of the time showing us comical road signs and the “Trunk Monkey” commercials.

Which would’ve been peachy, except it was three hours a day during my first week of summer after tenth grade, and we only got two breaks that were seven and a half minutes each (not seven, not eight, seven and a half!) and the only food we could eat was from the vending machines, and all they had were old strawberry Pop Tarts and Sprite Zero, and I was left sitting there thinking about how flavorless everything was and how risk was more like a one hour topic and get me out of here right now THIS IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.

Okay, so I wasn’t quite that dramatic. But it wasn’t fun.


Now, I’m pleased to say I’m a licensed and reasonably good driver, give or take. At least, in comparison to some of the incidents that have occurred at my high school.

I’ve seen kids park in multiple spots. I’ve seen them park with their car facing perpendicular to the way it should be. One student I know of drove up to a roundabout on a highway, kept going until they were up on the sidewalk in the center, then drove on the sidewalk until veering off at their turn.

I was also sitting at a light one time, waiting to turn left along with dozens of other cars in front of me, when someone got impatient. The driver in front of me decided they didn’t feel like waiting, so they pulled off the road into the ditch alongside it, drove in said ditch until they reached the intersection, then scooted their truck in front of the first car in line.

Sometimes I wonder how DMV instructors sleep at night.

I actually asked mine during my test if she considered hers a dangerous profession. She laughed and told me how she and the other instructors prefer to look at each day as an ‘adventure.’ Then she told me some of her craziest stories, including how one test taker about a year ago decided to go fifty miles per hour.

At that point I, driving on the open road, said, “Wait, isn’t the speed limit fifty here?”

To which she replied:

“Not back on the course, it ain’t!”

Excellent point, ma’am.

So, in case any adults are wondering, there are still teenagers out there who drive carefully and are annoyed by the people who don’t. I just try to be as careful as I can, and hope that everyone else on the road with me is halfway sensible.

And, meanwhile in Russia…



I wonder what their driving instructors think.