Friday, January 22, 2010


I work with a small group of 14-17-year-old Varsity and Venturer Scouts.

Two of them, both 16, recently took their "driver education" and got their licenses.

On Wednesday, I noticed that both came to our meeting in their motor vehicles. One was driving his dad's pickup truck; the other had his new "personal ride" - a somewhat decrepit old Datsun 2-door sedan, "with stick shift." (I, of course, was on my bike. One of these two youths has been a regular cyclist for years, and both successfully completed our 50-mile bike ride, a couple years back.)

Shiny new driver's license? It brings back fond memories.

I got my driver's license at 14. Frankly, it's a little scary that somebody with such poor judgment could legally drive! (Of course, I had been driving for some time before that, too... occasionally with, but often without my parents' permission.)

The first day I had a real-life driver's license - in August - I groveled and talked Mom into letting me borrow the car, to go to the State Fair. I loaded a couple buddies in. I ran a red light. Unintentionally... and fortunately with no ill-effects other than a friend of my dad's saw it and called and told him. That was also the last day, for a month, that I drove. We stayed long at the Fair, and it was after dark before I got home. (Even back then, 14-year-old punks couldn't legally drive after dark. I got "grounded.")

Mircaulously, I never killed or injured anybody while driving... and survived myself, albeit with some scars and bent-up cars in my checkered past.

Ah... nostalgia.

What would I like to tell my young new-driver friends? (And every kid I see in a driver-training vehicle?)

Congratulations! You have a significant new privilege, which is also a huge ADULT responsibility. When you are driving, YOU and you alone are totally responsible for the safe operation of that vehicle. One bad decision, or one moment of inattention, and it can become a lethal weapon. You do not want to injure or kill another person with your vehicle!

One more thing.


Just kidding! Sorta...

BUT... just because you can now drive, does NOT in any way mean that motor-vehicle must now be your exclusive mode of transportation.

Don't make the mistake that so many folks in our society do, and totally abandon alternatives that might be much more practical and efficient. Don't totally surrender to the fickle whims of Exxon-Mobil, and put yourself at their mercy. Don't lose sight of how expensive it is to drive one mile in a motor vehicle! (The IRS says it's 50 cents, but it's probably more than that.) A penny saved is a penny earned... and most young folks find those pennies to be quite scarce. Don't forget the cheap and enjoyable and good-for-you transportation that your bicycle has provided for many years.

Y'all drive careful now... y'hear?


Clancy said...

On my first day of having a drivers license, I was pulled over by Ruska the state cop. I had crossed the white line goofing around. I never got pulled over by him again. He was the cop that every one was fearful of.

My wife taught driver's education a couple of summers. She had a student run a red light with her in the car. They were pulled over and given a warning. Legally I guess they could of given my wife(instructor) the ticket.

Clancy said...

Off topic but relevant. Here is a quote from the Statesman "When it becomes a priority for citizens to complain, we do our best to make it a priority to investigate," Sgt. Mike Harrington said Thursday. "We have to focus our resources where the problems are. We know this type of activity may be occurring, so we appreciate citizens who can point to areas where it's becoming an issue."

Too bad they can not take that attitude towards cyclist infractions and not just prostitution.

Bikeboy said...

Clancy... I saw that BPD quote, and I thought EXACTLY that same thing!

(I've gotta assume that more law enforcement people signed up to investigate "massage with happy ending" than sign up to watch for bike-riders-against-traffic!)


Michael Carpenter said...

Shortly after my oldest daughter got her driver's license I came home and noticed that her bike had a flat. When I went in the house, I said, "We should fix the flat on your bike later." She looked at my like I'd lost my mind (which she frequently does) and said, "Why? I have my driver's license now."

Bikeboy said...

I REST MY CASE, Michael!!