What drives you crazy as a driver? Driver’s education never covered this. Is it the guy you wave in who doesn’t give you the courtesy wave? The driver who busts the red light because three seconds before she got there the light was yellow? The guy who can’t stay between the white lines when steering with his knee because he’s air drumming to Phil Collins on “In the Air Tonight?” The ride-your-tail-in-a-45, swerve out to pass, swerve back in and slam on the brakes at the red light guy? Is it “so enraptured by a phone conversation I forget I’m driving” gal?
What about you? What are you like behind the wheel? Are you the guy who shouts “Fer chrissakes, you dumbass!!” Or are you the guy who shrugs and says “People do stupid stuff.”
This is important. Your kids are in the backseat and they soak up your behavior. How you drive, how you react to idiots on the road, how you manage your behavior; all of those create a weird automotive calculus that will determine what your kids are like a dozen years down the road when your children take the wheel.
What kind of driver are you raising?
Our kids are sponges. You already know that. Without much prompting from you, your 8 year old daughter shouts at the referees during an Eagles game on TV, doesn’t she? Just like you. Perhaps your son sits quietly, soaking it in, as Justin Verlander throws another 6 hitter for the Tigers. Just like you. You don’t much care for mushrooms, and neither does your kid. Driving is no different.
So, be the driver that waves someone in, and gives the courtesy wave when someone lets you in. Don’t be the driver who stomps on the gas to keep that late merging SOB out of the lane “That’ll teach that rat bastard…”
So, be the smooth driver that goes 72 in the right hand lane, the guy who sees a slow vehicle up ahead, puts on his turn signal, passes smoothly, flashes the turn signal in the other direction, and merges smoothly back into the slow lane.
Don’t be the tailgating lane swerving asshat guy.
You child is taking it all in – the good and the bad – and when the day comes that your child takes the wheel of a motor vehicle, your kid will be a product of his/her role models – mom and dad. Are your good skills and relaxed attitude a guarantee that the kids will be safe?
Of course not. But –
- 60% of a teen’s driving education comes from parents
- 33% of all teenage deaths are caused by auto accidents
- 16 year olds are the worst drivers of any age group
- 20% of all teens have an accident in their first year of driving
- Talking on a cell phone reduces the attention span and reaction time of a teen to that of a seventy year old
When you became a parent, you joyfully became a role model. But be aware, we’re always role models. Grab every edge you can.
Nothing is worse than getting a call from the hospital or having a cop on your porch at 1 am.
Remember – we’re all in this together. I’m rooting for you, rooting hard.