Well, I guess I know how my parents felt at times. My daughter got her permit and is getting her driving practice in. At first, it was pretty nail-biting because it can be tough to remember that for a beginning driver, the rules of the road and the road rules are things you learn from experience. Sure, there are the fundamentals of learning to drive, but when you’ve been driving for years (or decades), an experienced driver knows how to read the road, look out for idiots, understand the subtleties of what other drivers are doing and the like. It takes time, and for a beginning driver like Maya it’s tough to know what people are doing (or what one should be doing) when venturing out on the road.
They say you never learn a subject as well as when you have to teach it, and the same goes for driving. What I tell Maya is to learn the proper way of driving, obey all the traffic rules, drive defensively, and try and anticipate an escape route if you have to make sudden changes due to something unexpected on the road. “It’s best to get these things ingrained in your memory,” I tell her, “before you start to flout the rules and drive like other jackasses on the road.” Thankfully, Maya has taken my advice to heart. She doesn’t drive like a jackass — though we’ve seen our fair share of them on the road. She’s starting out as a good driver and is growing more comfortable behind the wheel. But with that comfort comes the temptations of distractions — like the radio or the iPod.
I do remember my drivers eduction in high school where we had simulators we learned on before getting behind the wheel of a car. The simulators were actually great because there was a film they ran that tested you on how well you reacted to cars doing stupid things. You got graded on it and the teacher discussed why you need to react certain ways in certain situations. Of course we were all impatient teenagers eager to get behind the wheel and enjoy our independence, but for me, I didn’t forget these lessons (boring as they were at times). I like to think that I’m a good driver. I’ve only been in one accident that was my fault, and I generally try to drive in a way that’s not erratic, prone to excessive speeding or just generally oblivious to what’s going on around me. I like to think that because I generally adhere to these road rules is the reason I’ve been able to stay accident-free for all these years.
I’m hoping that Maya picks up on these cues I’ve been trying to instill and learns to be the kind of driver that seems to be a rarity at times: the good driver.