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how excited I was to get my driver’s licence. On my 16th birthday my
dad drove me to the DMV to take my test. I passed with flying colors, of
course, because I’d been practicing every chance I got. That same night, brand
new licence in hand, I picked up my friends, and we drove around until the wee
hours. No one—not even the parents of my passengers on this maiden voyage—seemed concerned in the least bit. “Oh, you’ve only been driving legally for
three hours? Here, let me put my kids, the most precious things in the world,
right into that car with you.”
that same scenario won’t be played out anytime soon with my own legal-to-drive
daughter, and for once it’s not because my paranoid nature is stopping the
process. Here’s the thing: She has no desire whatsoever to get her licence.
None. Nada. When my husband and I even bring up the subject, we’re met with a
variety of responses from indifference to distress, like we’d just asked her to
shut down her Instagram account.
not just her. From what she tells me, not many of her friends are driving,
either; they’re very content, thank you,
to get around using the subway, buses and—most importantly—their parents’
driving skills. I guess that night many years ago, my 16-year-old self was
actually in training for driving carloads of teenagers around.
the same thing from other parents with teens, too. At a recent dinner, a friend
called it an “epidemic” and said she was trying to figure out how to force her sons
to start driving themselves to baseball practice. We agreed that extreme
measures were necessary. Only driving carpool while wearing a bathrobe and
singing loudly along to Prince will have those kids clawing to get out of our
cars and into the DMV line in no time.
It’s hard to post a status update or shoot a Vine video when you’re behind the wheel of a car.
statistics reflect this trend, too. Studies say the number of teen drivers has
been decreasing steadily since 2003, and they cite a variety of factors, from
stricter driving laws regulating teens (by the current rules I would have had
to wait a full year before chauffeuring my friends around) to the expense
associated with driver training (no more free classes in high school). But one
of the more likely reasons is this: teens and their love of computers and social
media. Who needs to drive to see your friends at the bowling alley when you
can chat via Skype, or see what they’re up to via Facebook and Twitter? Also,
it’s hard to post a status update or shoot a Vine video when you’re behind the
wheel of a car.
late-driving trend has its benefits. Not having to worry about our teen out on
the harrowing streets of Los Angeles is fine with me, and the cost of insurance
and another car care expenses we can do without. She’ll be an older and more
mature driver by the time she does finally hit the road, and (fingers crossed)
will be able to contribute to the costs financially.
truth is I will actually miss driving my kids around. I’ve been doing it for
17 years, seeing their little faces peeking out at me from the backseat and hearing their chatter when I pick them up from school. I’ll miss seeing where
they’re going when I drop them off, and hearing about what they did when I pick
them up. Maybe they’ll still let me drive them around once in a while even
after they’ve gotten their licenses. Think they’ll mind the bathrobe and me
singing along to "Little Red Corvette"?