10 Things To know about driving that weren’t in the class

1. Cars are expensive

I know what you’re all thinking; “Wow, really, tell me something I didn’t know.” I know that you know cars are expensive, but until you have your own, you have no idea. Sure, we all know how much gas costs, but c’mon, it’s not that bad right? Check back with me when you’ve filled up your car for the first time and tell me you didn’t feel like going out and drilling for your own gas to cut costs. Gas itself isn’t the only thing though, that would be somewhat manageable it’s also other expenses you had no idea you’d be paying. A month after I got my car I looked at my tire and realized it was losing air. Alright, worst case scenario, I thought, was replacing a tire. I got my car back a week later with two new wheel bearings and a bill for $600. I was right about that tire though, that was $25.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “Insurance will be expensive, your parents will probably be stuck paying for it, but you should totally help with that and stuff, back to watching car crash videos.”

2. Any close call you have will be presumed your fault

Recently I was driving in the Albertville mall parking lot on the small road that connects the lots. As the car in the lane next to me turned right, I continued down the road past the small lot. A woman who apparently was late to remedial driving lessons pulled straight out from said parking lot and almost crashed into me. This particular incident would not have been my fault had she hit me, but when I told people I got a certain look. The look that says “Uh huh, a sixty year old lady almost hit you, I bet you’re also an Olympic gymnast.” Well I’ll have you know that both of those are true*, but there is a stigma to teen drivers that says we’re all texting and driving so naturally it’s our fault. Sometimes it is your fault. I’m not going to say I’ve never made mistakes, but after waiting longer than a lot of my peers to get my license I would like to think that the extra time made me an even more competent driver, or at the very least more aware of my surroundings.
*Rachel is not an Olympic gymnast; she just likes to think she could be.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “If you get in a car crash it’s probably your fault, that’s why I’m here to show you gory videos of them.”

3. You will feel liberated (and a bit scared)

The day you get your license you will, without a doubt, tell your parents to hit the ground running as you speed away. After you make sure your parents don’t have road rash and are out of sight, you will panic a little. I almost guarantee it. I didn’t outwardly panic, but in my head I felt like I was breaking the law. This has nothing to do with your skill as a driver, everybody feels nervous the first time they drive alone.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us:” Once you’re ready, you’ll be a great driver, but don’t get in a car crash, because trust me, they’re scary, and gory, let me demonstrate.”

4. Be Prepared to do all of the shopping, all of the time

This pretty much needs no explanation, once your parents realize they don’t have to change out of their bathrobe to go to the store you will be going for them.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “Don’t get into a car crash on the home from the store, it will be gory and there will be wasted groceries everywhere!”

5. You will think everyone but you is a terrible driver

We’ve all seen people do stupid things while they were driving, the other day I saw a woman holding her dog out the window while turning a corner, but when you start driving by yourself you will notice this more than ever. In the short time that I’ve been driving 90% of days when I come home I have a “You won’t believe what this idiot did” story. At first I just thought that all terrible drivers started driving when I was on the roads (it’s a conspiracy I tell you!) then I realized that sounded a wee bit crazy. Then as the road rage lessened and clear headed-ness prevailed I realized that I just never noticed this when other people driving, at least not as much. But trust me, you will think the same thing.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “Terrible drivers cause car crashes, don’t be one!”

6. There are distractions other than texting

We’ve all been told not to text because as teenagers we obviously have to get our LOLs to our friends, even if we’re driving. There are other things out there that are going to distract you though. By the time you get really comfortable driving and it doesn’t feel like you need to pay as much attention (you DO) the multitasking part of your brain kicks in. This is what mine says when I’m driving (I have not done these things, just thought about it); “Hey, this CD is boring, you should change it, now. Oh there’s a spot on your glasses, you should get that. Oh! McDonald’s, eat it. Now.” Don’t listen to this part of your brain while you drive, no matter how good of a driver you are, multitasking and driving don’t mix.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “Don’t text and drive or you’ll cause a crash and probably lose your arm!”

7. You will suddenly become concerned with gas mileage and things you never knew existed

We’re all aware of gas mileage before we start driving, but when you start by yourself you may or may not develop a slight obsession with checking yours. Each tank of gas you get will make you want to calculate the mileage, and you will be frustrated if it’s not great. You will also become concerned with your wheel bearings, oil changes, and other things you didn’t have to think much about before driving. I didn’t even know I had wheel bearings before I needed them replaced. Welcome to adulthood.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “You better be on top of this stuff or you’ll get in a car crash, I’m sure there’s a way gas mileage contributes to accidents, let me find an obscure statistic for you!”

8. You will develop embarrassing habits in the comfort of your car

This is something you only realize when someone else is in your car. I didn’t realize how much I comment on other drivers sarcastically or how badly I sing until someone else was in the car with me, and then I realized how weird I truly am. You will have awkward moments when giving someone a ride when you realize that you are singing very loudly to an embarrassing pop song that you don’t even like. Be prepared, it will happen.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “If you give someone a ride, you’ll get distracted and crash. You should probably wait until you’re thirty to drive with passengers.”

9. Being a passenger will become weird

The more you drive yourself the more you get used to your own driving and habits (hopefully good ones.) This can make you a horrible back seat driver when you go places with your parents driving or your friends. You will start to notice other people’s bad habits and want to be critical, but remember, they could probably say some things about your driving too.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “Too many teenagers in a car is a just a car crash recipe. You should all sit quietly and never speak to the driver or else you will end up like crash test dummies.”

10. You will start to think of driving as a daily task, not as something serious

What I mean by this is that once you are comfortable driving alone it becomes one of those things you “just do,” like brushing your teeth. You will start to feel like you’re paying less attention to the minute things you noticed before. You have to start thinking of it more seriously than that, the consequences if you don’t pay as much attention as you should are much worse than getting toothpaste on your shirt. Think of each driving experience as a fresh start, not just the 3rd time you’ve gone out today. Remember that there will always be kids on bikes and people who tailgate and you need to pay as much attention to them as you did when you first got your license.

What Driver’s Ed Taught Us: “Brushing your teeth while driving is definitely a car crash waiting to happen. Can you imagine explaining that in your insurance statement? Don’t do it or you will have a very awkward police report, and higher insurance.”

Rachel Ulfers

Rachel is currently a PSEO student at NHCC during her senior year. She is in DECA, Hoofprint,and enjoys photography and playing with her overbearing yellow lab.

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