Don’t Fear The Teenage Driver

2015-04-Life-of-Pix-free-stock-photos-st-madeleine-farm-hangar-campaign-veronique-marierWe bought the car when my wife was pregnant with our son because we thought it would make a good family car. I never imagined that 15 years later I would still be driving it and that the kid who helped break it in would want it for himself.

I remember sitting in the dealership wondering how many kids would one day fill the car and desperately trying to figure out if I would be able to buy a house for all of us.

Funny thing is a short time later I switched jobs and quadrupled my income so the house that seemed impossible to buy showed up the next year.

Fifteen years later the house and the decade we lived there is just a memory and the baby who was in utero has become a teenage boy who wants to know why I don’t understand how difficult his little sister can be.

In between telling me she won’t stop bugging him he says he doesn’t want me to get rid of my car because he wants it to be his.

It is a not a horrible idea but it is unlikely that I’ll hold onto the car.

Dad Needs A New Car

I started test driving cars a couple of weeks ago. The plan is/was to take some time to figure out what I really want and then wait a short while for the 2016 models to start coming in so that I could get a better deal on a 2015.

What I didn’t think about was how I would react.

What I didn’t think about was how every new car I have driven feels like it is a 1000 times better than my car. I feel kind of silly saying that because it should have been obvious to me.

Modern technology, lumbar support, seats that have coolers and heat warmers and a million other little details make it hard for my current steed to compete.

All it has are memories, a good run of safety and reliability and the fact that it was paid off years ago.

Those are solid traits that merit thought and consideration but they aren’t enough to quell the now burning desire to trade those wheels for something new.

But I am not sure if the safety and reliability I have long enjoyed are solid enough for me to be willing to pass it along to a teenage driver.


“Dad, if they are no going to give you a good deal on the trade-in you ought to just hold onto the car and give it to me.”

I nod my head, smile and tell him I am almost 100 percent certain I’ll trade it in and use whatever they give me for it as part of my down payment.

“Dad, wouldn’t it be cheaper to just fix the car and give it to me.”

Part of me is pleased he is finally talking about driving because until recently it wasn’t a big deal to him. I never understood why he didn’t start talking about it sooner.

A driver’s license was one of those things that was never far from my teenage mind or my friends. The freedom we pictured that came with a license and a car was huge.

A while back I asked the boys if they were having similar experiences with their kids and they all told me they were having similar experiences.

Shared ambivalence among the teens made me wonder what had changed between now and when we were kids. I figure it has to do with how parents have collectively been more protective of our children than our parents were of us.

That is not to say our parents loved us less than we love our kids because I don’t believe that is true.

But what is true is that we were far more likely to walk to school, play outside and do things that were unsupervised and unscheduled than our children are.

One of the best things I ever did for my kids was to give them the opportunity to walk to and from school. It helped them gain confidence and mature.

But I am not sure if the safety and reliability I have long enjoyed are solid enough for me to be willing to pass it along to a teenage driver.Click To Tweet

My first car was a ’69 Dodge Dart Swinger and the only thing it was missing was a turret.

That sucker was a tank.

Ok, it was missing far more than a turret. It didn’t have air conditioning, power steering or almost any of the modern comforts we expect cars to have now.

It was just a giant hunk of steel wrapped around an engine, but that hunk of steel helped ease my parents’ concerns about me on the road.

The funny thing about it is that if you compared its safety ratings and records against the Honda I drive now I am confident my Honda would have the superior record.

Technically it should be perfectly fine for my kid to drive, but because he is my kid and I worry I want him to have a different car.

I am not talking about a brand new car because I don’t think would be appropriate but a car that isn’t 15 years old should be a better choice.

A used vehicle that is newer than something that rolled off the line in 2000 should have a few more safety features and benefits that my current one doesn’t have.

Don’t Fear The Teenage Driver

“Dad, I am going to be careful. I know that as a new driver I might make mistakes or have an accident, but I am going to be careful.”

I don’t tell him about all of the accidents I have seen or even mention any that I have been a part of. I don’t tell him all of the stories I know because now isn’t the time to get into it.

Instead I promise that when the time comes we’ll do our best to make sure he gets time behind the wheel.

“You become a better driver by practicing and learning how to focus on the road and what is happening around you. I worry less about your focus than I do about what happens when you encounter other drivers on the road.”

“Dad, don’t fear the teenage driver. Embrace him.”

I am working on it, I am just glad I have a little more time before I have to figure it all out.

Fifteen years went by in the blink of an eye.

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