Friday, September 14, 2012

Experience . . . The Teenage Driver!

I'm learning to drive.  That's right, folks, I just got my permit and had 8 hours behind the wheels lesson with Melrose Driving School Instructor Lorena. My mom takes me out to drive every once in a while so I can earn the required 60 hours on the road experience before I take my driving test at the California  DMV-- and boy, is she scared.  She practically clings to the armrest for dear life, and from the passenger side, her foot air pumps furiously on imaginary breaks.  Mom once made the mistake of inviting dad and sis to join us during one of my practice drives.  He ended up blowing up at me and refusing to speak to mom for half a day (presumably because mom allowed him to be in the backseat), and sis declared that she "wasn't prepared to leave her life in my hands" that day.

My favorite comic strip about teenagers: "Zits" by Scott and Borgman

So maybe I'm not exactly a fantastic driver yet, but I discovered that there may be bonafide explanations for this. I read an artical called Teenage Brains in National Geographic about how teenage brains function.  (And we all know that National Geographic is a real authority on stuff like this.) The article lists two main reasons as to why we teens do the seemingly (and sometimes actually) stupid, stupid things we do -- you know, texting while driving, DUI (not me, but teens in general), speeding, etc.  The first: our brains are half-baked!  Of course kiddie noggins don't just poof into adult minds, but evidence of brain maturation can actually be physically seen using brain scans.  My brain is still developing, and while I have more self-control than 6-year-old does, I'm still a bit more impulsive than my parents are.  That means it's harder for me to resist the temptation of checking my text messages while driving. . . Wait. That maybe due to my ADHD.

Another reason cited by the article is that teens are also more inclined to engage in thrill-seeking and risk-taking behavior.  So basically, we are willing to put more at risk for a temporary reward than adults are.  Maybe I brake a little too suddenly at a stop sign, or I don't really break much at all on a turn -- because I like the thrill of waiting to see how far I can push it before applying the brakes? Hmm. That's a stretch.

Whatever it is, teen drivers need to learn to control their tendencies. It is serious business to earn the privilege of driving. Too many teens get into accidents while driving, injuring not just themselves but innocent people too.  When I see a teen in a Driver's Ed vehicle, even I steer clear of it knowing that if the teenage driver in there is anything like me, danger lurks.  It may take me longer than other teens to master the responsibility of driving, but I am determined to practice and practice until I can be a safe driver.

1 comment:

  1. I’m sure thinking of that scene now only brings laughter within your family. It was a fun learning experience for everyone, especially for you and your dad. Being in the driver seat, while your dad stayed at the back surely has taught you how big the responsibility it is to be the one maneuvering the car. Those articles might have some truth in it, but it is still you who will handle the situation. Good luck!