Driving me crazy: Learner’s permit for daughter cause for concern

Driving me crazy: Learner’s permit for daughter cause for concern

Posted: Friday, February 10, 2012 10:27 pm
By: By DAVID CRITCHLOW JR., Editor

Driving me crazy: Learner's permit for daughter cause for concern | Driving me crazy: Learner's permit for daughter cause for concern

The Messenger 02.10.12

My daughter is driving?
On the roads and streets and highways?
I don’t think so; she’s way too young to be driving.
It was just this past Christmas she was banging her battery-operated pink Barbie Jeep into all the furniture in the house and sending our dogs scattering for cover. Or was it? Was that Christmas really 12 years ago?
That was cute and funny, but this driving real cars on real streets is totally different.
Fortunately, she just has her learner’s permit, so a parent has to be with her when she drives. Or at least I thought it was fortunate.
Within the first week of getting her permit, she almost had her first road kill after a kamikaze squirrel came darting out in front of the car. On the bright side, all parties survived that near-miss encounter  — or would that be a near-hit encounter?
Either way, it was an excellent lesson: Don’t jerk the wheel when an animal runs out in front of you. Sure, it may make a mess of the car if you run into it, but swerving out of the way can result in potentially worse — and sometimes tragic — situations. Plus, thanks to a nationally-publicized roadkill law passed in Tennessee, it’s legal to scoop up the carcass and take it home to eat.
While offering a few tips from the passenger seat, I couldn’t help but think about my first experiences as a “learning” driver in the 1970s.
Driver’s education was offered at the high school then with the girls’ basketball coach being assigned the lucky task as the instructor, risking life and limb to ride with car-driving newbies.
I don’t remember much from the drives — which were usually to check on things at his farm — other than the smell of burning brake pads. The passenger side of the front seat was equipped with its own brake pedal so the instructor could remind students when they needed to slow it down. Apparently I needed extra reminding.
Other than the family station wagon, the first vehicle I drove was a 1964 Ford Fairlane with three-on-the-tree manual transmission. In fact, everything was manual, as there were no such things as power steering, power windows and power door locks and certainly no cruise control.
Since texting or phones in cars were nonexistent at that time, the only potential distraction was listening to AM radio on rear-dash speakers that had fallen off into the trunk. These days, there are hundreds of stations to flip between on XM/Sirius radio.
Under my grandmother’s tender loving care, that Fairlane survived being hit by a car, an 18-wheeler and a train.
Under my watch, the engine didn’t last a year. Apparently that big, powerful tank of a sports car was not designed to go 55 miles per hour for very long, especially since my grandmother kept it purring along at 10 miles under the speed limit for more than a decade.
While I was curious as to why my daughter wasn’t always asking to drive me around, especially since she can drive legally with one of her parents, I may have found the answer in a Facebook posting that was brought to my attention.
She posted online she was excited about driving but not necessarily her options of whom she would be required to drive with in the car.
One of her friends responded, “Just ride with the one you find least annoying.”
Since she rarely drives me, I guess I know where I stand — at least until she turns 16 and is looking for a vehicle of her own to drive.
While I’m sure she has something sporty in mind, I’m willing to bet I can locate a slightly battered ’64 Fairlane to keep her safe.
If she doesn’t like that — or if I find out she’s been texting while driving it — I might have to look at other options.
I wonder if she would still consider that pink Barbie Jeep sporty.
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Editor David Critchlow Jr. may be contacted by email at dgc@ucmessenger.com.

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