By Ernie Fowler – Nashville CHSD #99
Teachers do amazing things with students. They help to shape young minds, regardless of grade level, into being independent thinkers and problem solvers. Teaching is one of the most honorable professions that anyone could ever choose.
One category of teachers is especially admirable. I’m talking about those who teacher driver’s education.
Parents who helped to teach their teenagers to drive can relate.
Few things will cause one’s hind side to tense up like sitting in the seat next to a novice driver. Every time I rode with my two sons who were learning to drive it caused me to want to kiss the ground once the car stopped. A fifteen minute drive around town caused me to reflect over my life like I was about to take my final exit from Earth.
We would come upon a stopped car. I saw the brake lights ahead of me but my sons never seemed to react as quickly as I would. This would result in my yelling “stop, stop….stop”! My right leg pressed against the passenger side floor board in hopes that my sympathy braking would avoid us landing in the person’s trunk. I was sure that my foot would eventually push through the floor board causing me to be able to stop our car like the Flintstones car was stopped in cartoons.
I survived my two sons learning to drive only to find the one thing worse than a teen driving who wasn’t sure of their skills.
That one thing….a teen who is overconfident in their skills! Upon getting their license, they would defy all of the quality instruction they received in driver’s education. They decided that it wasn’t necessary to have their hands in the “10 and 2” or “9 and 3” positions on the steering wheel. It was cooler to loosely dangle one hand over the top of the wheel. This would allow the other hand the freedom to hold a Big Swigg, eat a burger, or possibly caress the hand of a young lady brave enough to ride with them.
They also believed it no longer necessary to keep one car length between them and the car ahead of them for each ten miles per hour on the speedometer.
It is amazing that a 16 year old has more confidence in the braking ability of their vehicle than their much more experienced parent.
I cannot imagine the stress that driver’s ed teachers feel as their days are filled with inexperienced drivers.
As a parent, I didn’t have to mask my frustration when riding with my sons. “Are you an idiot?” “Get your head out of your….and watch the road”. Such were the loving refrains that I used when fear gripped me at the narrow misses perpetuated by my kids.
Professional driver’s ed teachers don’t have the same freedom to voice such strong guidance to their students. They must protect the teen’s self-esteem so their confidence level will grow.
As a parent, I just wanted to get back home to grab my blood pressure medication and wait to once again hear those terrifying words….”hey Dad, lets go for a drive”!
A Thank You To Drivers Ed Teachers