Something I don’t consciously think about as I drive around our communities is how knowledgeable and experienced the drivers are around me. It’s something that I’m constantly aware of now that I have a 15 year-old with a driver’s permit. Our daughter completed the classroom portion of her test, passed the permit exam and now will spend the next year working towards 50 daytime hours and roughly 25 nighttime hours to be ready to take her behind the wheel test when she turns 16. There is an app on her phone that tracks her driving time.
The first time I sat in the passenger seat with her behind the wheel was, in a word, terrifying. We had practiced some key skills in parking lots, but there is nothing like the first time driving on the open road with other cars. Despite some initial confusion on starting a push button switch and figuring out which pedal was the brake, she is following the rules and doing a good job of driving. I sometimes have to encourage her to speed up a little when a traffic jam is building behind us, and to slow down well in advance of approaching stop signs and turns. We are working on response time and making decisions a little quicker. She takes every opportunity to practice.
The realization that our streets are filled with young drivers has been enlightening. I think I have a little more patience, and I encourage others to cut out the road rage. In these last few months that Abbey has been driving, we have experienced several instances of mild aggression from other drivers. For example, kids are taught to stop at a stop sign for three full seconds, and she has been honked at for doing it.
There have been dirty looks and at least one obscene gesture as she’s tried to merge onto the highway, cementing my wife’s belief that there isn’t a single driver in the state of Minnesota that lets you in on a merge. On Abbey’s first night-driving experience to pick up her brother at a friend’s house, she was going a little slow and the driver behind us flashed his high beams at her. The funny part was when he followed us all the way into the driveway of the friend’s house, because it was the friend’s dad.
The worst part of the honking and unfriendly gestures is that it rattles her a little. She gets nervous that the drivers around her are going to get mad. The last thing any of us needs is for an inexperienced driver to panic and make a mistake because someone can’t show a little patience and understanding.
I’m thankful that my kids will learn to drive with the new cell phone law in effect. Hopefully keeping the phone totally out of sight while driving will become as much of a habit as putting on a seatbelt.
As you prepare to hit the road with a new driver, take a deep breath. Enjoy the forced togetherness with your child and and try not to let on that you’re totally scared out of your mind. Eventually most kids figure it out and do fine.
Many thanks go out to the supporters and subscribers of the paper. As we wind down our fall voluntary subscription campaign we have a Winner. Congratulations to Marv Patraw and Sandar Diekman who received $250 of local gift cards to Lexingtion Liquor, Lakes One Stop and Fleet Farm. The staff here at Press Publications is thankful for the community support, especially since the paper is free to anyone who wants it. Your support helps keep the news and information flowing into the community.
A few weeks ago, a friend was joking with me by saying he was glad we don’t need farmers anymore because we have grocery stores, and we don’t need newspapers because we have the internet. Just like we need farmers to produce the food to stock the shelves at our grocery stores, we need journalists to spend time in meetings, conduct interviews, check sources and to write the stories that become local news and fill the pages of the paper.
Thank you again for reading the local news both online and in print. Our goal is to be your best source of community news.
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Carter Johnson is publisher of Press Publications.