Monday, October 17, 2011

Driver's Ed

The radio show this morning talked about a statistic that says 61% of new drivers say that the person teaching them to drive was distracted by a smartphone and paying attention to that instead of the driving lesson. It reminded me of when I was learning to drive. No smartphone involved, but plenty of distraction...

At our school, we took a driver's ed class during the trimester before you turned 16, then once you hit 16 you could actually go out in the practice car with the driver's ed instructor. I grew up in a fairly small town and I know a lot of kids there did some driving before their 16th birthdays. There were plenty of people I knew who weren't too concerned with legal niceties like learner's permits. My parents were not among these people. Before getting in the driver's ed practice car, I had MAYBE driven the family car once or twice for very short distances. In other words, I was far from a confident, experienced driver.

My very first day in the driver's ed car, there were two students and the instructor, Mr. Henry. (As a total side note, I remember the other student was Tyler - who was born one day before me. Which I knew because every time his mother substitute-taught a class I was in, she would comment on the fact that her son was born one day before me and she and my mother saw each other in the hospital when we were born. By the time I got to high school, other students in the class would mouth the story along with her.) 

Tyler lived about 30 minutes outside of town, so the instructor announced that Tyler would drive us from town to his house, where we would drop him off, and then I would drive the car back into town. Tyler confidently set off - he had obviously had some practice and did not seem nervous at all. He drove to his house, grabbed his things and hopped out. Then it was my turn.

I got in the driver's seat and started to pull slowly out of the driveway - very grateful that Tyler's family had a semi-circle driveway so I didn't have to try backing up first thing! I cautiously and nervously headed out to the highway. A few minutes later, Mr. Henry asked if I remembered the way back to town. I told him I did. He said I was doing great and he was sure I wouldn't have any troubles on the way home... and then he reclined his seat a few inches and went to sleep.

Yep, my first time really driving - especially driving on the highway instead of little back roads! - and the instructor went to sleep. I'm glad I didn't actually have any problems on the way! But we did make it back safe and sound.

Other memorable moments in Mr. Henry's driving instruction included the time he read the newspaper - unfolded fully in front of his face; there's no way he could see the road or anything that was happening out the front windshield. And of course the time he took off his shoes and clipped his toenails the entire time I was driving - I'll say this for him... he was a very flexible man.


Wendie said...

Oh my goodness!! I can't believe they have driver's ed teachers like Mr. Henry! My family paid for my private driving lessons (because driver's ed would have been WAY after my August birthday) so nothing too scary, but I do remember stopping to run the teacher's 'errands'.

Tera said...

I'm feeling a little jipped. My HS didn't offer drivers Ed, and since my parents considered driving a privilege and not a right, I had to save up money and pay for private lessons....where the teacher actually taught me and left me with no crazy stories to tell.