Who Taught You How to Drive?06/19/2021
Today in Texas, a 15-year-old kid can sign up for online driver’s education, complete six hours of class time, and get a shiny new learner’s permit without any in-class time. That’s not how it was when I was getting my permit, probably because “online class” was not a thing then. I attended a summer driving course in my school’s parking lot in a squared-off Ford Tempo with automatic transmission. Looking back, now I understand why the instructors had so much gray hair and permanently-white knuckles.
I’m curious: who taught you how to drive?
My parents taught me how to drive before I knew how to drive, allowing me to shift gears on our 1981 Chevrolet Citation from the passenger seat. Dad attempted to teach my grandmother to drive for the first time when she was already in her 60s, and I think that was a one-and-done occasion. She had met my grandfather and eloped when she was 19, and for the decades they were married, he drove her wherever she wanted to go. After he passed away, she relied on friends and family as needed. By the time Dad got her behind the wheel, the idea was pretty scary for her.
PBS reported in 2017 that more young adults are getting their licenses after they turn 18, which is the cutoff for many states to require training for new drivers. I’m a big proponent of improving one’s driving skills through specialized schools and even through motorcycle training; there are plenty of lessons to learn that aren’t taught in basic drivers’ education classes alone. That said, those indulgences are not free so it’s a luxury not everyone can afford. Some organizations like Ford’s Driving Skills for Life and Doug Herbert’s B.R.A.K.E.S. class charge a small fee or they’re free for teens and parents.
And it’s never too late to improve, by the way: a great-grandmother in Lubbock, Texas, has taken three Bondurant classes in Arizona and learned how to drag race only recently. She treated herself to a race on her 75th birthday and I hope I’m that intrepid when I’m her age.
Tell me in the comment section if you taught yourself how to drive or if someone taught you and who it was. I’d love to hear your tales, and who knows? Yours might end up in a future story.
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