Ask the grumpies: teen drivers

omdg asks:

How do you feel about teenagers and driving?

#1:  Terrified.

#2:  They have to learn sometime, right?  Kids today don’t seem super eager to get behind the wheel like kids in my generation (#notallkids).  Most of my friends with older kids report forcing their teenagers to get learning permits.  I’m not sure what the change is.  It’s not like we’re living someplace with great public transportation.  Maybe it’s more of the kids spending time with parents and enjoying doing so and not being off on their own much thing that’s been happening.

18 Responses to “Ask the grumpies: teen drivers”

  1. Nanani Says:

    I’m pretty far out from being a teenager but when I was one, I was terrified of driving, failed my tests, and as an adult have arranged my life to have public transportation.

    Driving really is scary. Maybe the rise of the internet and the ability to socialise via phones, online games, etc has eliminated one big motivation for getting over the (entirely rational) fear of death by road accident?
    It would be interesting to see if non driving teens are correlated with using other transport, or are really staying at home more.

  2. xykademiqz Says:

    I have a teen driver (18 now). He did a month of driving school when he was 15+, but that was just classroom. Then he drove with me a little here and there for about a year (I joke that he learned adiabatically), which also included 6 hours of driving with the driving school, but really that was more for them to check whether he’s learning what he’s supposed to be learning while driving with a parent. He took his test at 16 and passed. He’s a pretty decent driver and a mellow kid overall. We got him a lovely little car (2007 Toyota Yaris) the summer after (17+). He takes care of his car (he works at a sandwich chain and uses that money, among other things, for regular car maintenance and gas).

    He was eager to drive (modulated by his mellowness), but I know that many of his friends weren’t. I think kids these days don’t have many places to hang out, other than the mall or their homes. They do, however, interact a lot online. And at least in our social stratum, they often seem comfortable hanging out with their parents and being driven around.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I just found out that driver’s ed isn’t a thing here! So I guess my kids will be taking private driving lessons… just like I did (I dropped out of summer school driver’s ed to take Calc 3…)

      That’s a good point about the change in social norms… kids don’t really seem to hang out at the mall much here, but they all have smartphones, poor DC1 excluded. (Zie has a flip phone — the third or fourth such phone after multiple lost phones and phones that have been through the clothes washer– and doesn’t like our answer that zie can buy hir own smartphone.)

  3. rose Says:

    Where I am: parking is hard to find and expensive, traffic is really backed up, driving is less fun than it was ~ for everyone. Having a car for kid to drive is also expensive and fewer people can afford one for that purpose so availability depends on using parental car which is usually with parent at work/store/other needs. Parking off-street is super expensive, street parking is limited to 2 hour stretches and street cleaning weekly means (even with expensive paid for sticker for your residential neighborhood area) cars have to be moved regularly which is a PIA. Many houses were built with tiny unsuitable for today’s cars garages and multiple apartment units were built with no garages as cars were not common when the buildings went up. Tickets are very expensive. Cheapest gas is over 3.60/gallon yesterday. Also, for good reasons, there are restrictions on driving with peers as soon as you get license. Insurance is really high for kids too. AND: Green issues. Using cars has changed a lot. I restrict my driving too.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I think the people in my generation who got through college with out a driver’s license were all in NYC. It sounds like there’s more folks now.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Also, I think there’s a whole movement against personal driving among young people. There’s global warming, and there are extremely low-paying jobs that don’t make car ownership affordable.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Oops, that was suppose to be a reply to an earlier comment. My reply to this comment is that it’s also easy to be carless in Boston.

      • nicoleandmaggie Says:

        And it is impossible to drive in Boston because all of the streets are one way going THE OTHER DIRECTION. But I don’t think I’ve met anybody my generation who grew up in Boston who didn’t stay in Boston or move to NYC, so…

        DC is another place with great public transportation, though people tell me it has recently been falling into disrepair.

      • Debbie M Says:

        Also, the other drivers are never looking at you, so you always have to yield to them. I don’t remember the one-way problem in Boston, but do remember one in Philadelphia. I can’t remember if all roads lead in or out anymore, one of those.

        I just went to school in (near) Boston and then moved back to Texas.

  4. gasstationwithoutpumps Says:

    My son (22 years old) has no interest in learning to drive. A bicycle is his main transportation, though he will occasionally use bus, train, or Lyft, when a bicycle is too inconvenient. He comes by his reluctance to drive naturally—neither of his parents have ever had a drivers’ license (I did have a learner’s permit for a year, 46 years ago).

  5. chacha1 Says:

    Learning to drive was not an option when I was a teenager, unless I never wanted to go anywhere (friends, jobs, college) or do anything unaccompanied by a parent. We lived out in the country.

    My husband’s nephew was in college before learning to drive. He still opts for public transportation most of the time and doesn’t own a car. But then, his father has three (3!) and they live in San Francisco, which actually HAS public transportation worthy of the name, unlike L.A.

    I can’t speak to “kids today” generally. If I were a teenager now I sure wouldn’t want to be driving in L.A. With ride-sharing services etc., I imagine it’s cheaper – and safer – to just let someone else drive. There’s no way maintaining a car for a teenager doesn’t cost more than regular Ubers. I think the same thing when I see very old people unsafely driving: just hire a driver. Save money, and don’t run over somebody because you’re in drive when you thought you were in reverse.

  6. Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

    Both. Growing up, 99% of teens got their licenses and some of them probably shouldn’t have because they were reckless (a group of them got high and drove off a cliff in our junior year). I wasn’t reckless but I wasn’t GOOD at it for a long time – the many years of practice since then was important. But it was the norm to learn to drive early.

    We did have a few friends who didn’t learn because they couldn’t afford a car anyway. I feel like it would have been a useful skill to have even if they didn’t have their own car. They did leave home right on time – straight into college away from home after graduating from high school.

    We had no good public transportation where we lived so generally we picked up the friends who didn’t have cars, I don’t think it affected whether they spent more or less time with family.

    • nicoleandmaggie Says:

      I didn’t have a car in college and my driving ability definitely suffered from lack of practice. (I was always one of the friends who got picked up, not who did the picking up. But I bought gas!)

      • Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life Says:

        See, that’s another norm that I didn’t know about. We just picked up the friends, we never did the gas money thing. Not even when I drove two hours down and then another two hours back. I wonder why that didn’t enter into the equation. Possibly because some of us were more well off than others and didn’t think gas money mattered, and those who didn’t have the money didn’t mind footing the bill once in a while?


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