Monday, January 9, 2012

CRASH! And so it begins ... My baby begins driver's training tonight

I knew this day was coming. It's one of those days I probably thought about, 14 years ago, as I sat holding an infant while while watching "Blue Clues" or some other Saturday morning show, I thought about how special this little bundle of joy was and how life's truly scary moments were still far away, so very far away, for my baby.

One of the thoughts that has always scared me the most: driving. Seriously. As a reporter, I've driven quickly to the scene of way too many car crashes, many of them fatal crashes. I've seen the damage two fast-moving vehicles can do to each other and the people inside them.

I'd rather she just not drive at all. Take the bus, you know? Or just call me! I'd take her anywhere. But life doesn't work that way. America runs on cars. We build vast communities, within which you can't possibly function without a car. Our culture is built around the romanticism of the open road. From Jack Kerouac's road trip to Bruce Springsteen's dreams of Mary "climbing in," to Vin Diesel's blockbuster big-screen escapades, you really can't escape it: we are a nation that worships not only cars, but also getting behind the wheel and using one to take control of your destiny.

And I'm helpless to fight this.

Emma is 14. She's already got her eyes on her mother's Honda Fit, a sporty little red car with a distinctive look and kick-ass stereo. In a few months, when she turns 15, she'll be able to drive with her permit. I just hope she approaches driving safety like she approaches everything else: With caution and attention to detail.

You see, when it comes to being worried about Emma, I do have one thing on my side: Emma, herself, is a worrier. She worries about everything. Once we grabbed some lunch and headed up to MSU to eat. It was summer, and parking enforcement was nil, so we parked in a gold-permit stall and we didn't have a gold permit. We'd be eating nearby, we figured. On the off-chance a parking enforcement guy comes along, we'd move. But Emma was furious. Refused to get out of the car. It was wrong, she implored. Wrong!

Only her love of Subway sandwiches is stronger than her compulsion to follow the rules. So she relented, and joined us, arms crossed, at the picnic table. It was cute. She was 8.

Then ... we heard it.

In the distance, police car sirens wailed. They started low, then, within a few seconds, they sounded closer.

Emma, bless her little heart, heard those sirens and began to panic. Tears welled up in her eyes. What's wrong? we asked. Her answer: She was convinced those sirens were the cops coming to arrest her dad and throw him in jail for -- yep -- illegal parking.

So the girl embarks on one of those touchstone moments today. They'll begin teaching her about rules of the road, about stop signs and turn signals and speed limits. She'll listen to all of it. And follow those rules when she gets behind the wheel, finally.

What concerns me, though, is how others will not.

You can't make a trip to the gas station in this town without driving past a kid driving while on their phone. I've personally witnessed a teen-aged girl blow through a stop sign near Monroe Elementary as she stared down at her phone. It's inescapable. It's a scary time for experienced drivers. It's got to be downright frightening for new ones.

But ... There's nothing I can do other than hope that the little girl who refused to be OK with dad parking in a no-parking zone brings that kind of attitude to driving. If she does -- and I'm pretty sure she will -- I think she'll be OK.


  1. Robb, having gone through this year's ago with 2 teenager I have learned that about the only thing you can do besides telling them to be careful is to pray. And prayer works wonders for both them (as the Lord watches over them) and for you (as it calms your soul).

  2. Yes! God is watching! He saved me today on the highway. I could have died on the highway in a horrible accident. I got lucky!!! Close call. After my car and another car just about hit each other, I was able to move my car over in enough time without losing control or being hit from behind. I am almost got nailed on the passenger side and would have been probably killed or the person in the other car would have been killed. It came so fast and I didn't see the car until the last minute. I feel lucky. I truly believe something was watching over me.

  3. I get it, Robb... my husband and I are going through the 'wonder years' of having 4 teenage/young adult MALE drivers in our family(2 are in their early 20s, 2 are still teens )... I, too, still pray (like the person above mentioned) every time one of them walks out the door and gets into his car. I also regularly remind THEM that they "have MY SON'S life in their hands" every time they get behind the wheel. Once they figured out what I meant by that :) they seemed more respectful and understanding of the seriousness and responsibility associated with being in the driver's seat! Good Luck - and Hang On - it's an exciting ride!

  4. Driving lesson is a best way to learn driving.But we all know that car crash is always happen it is because they don't have discipline.Well this is a good article for me.