I Don’t Need This by//Kami Geron

Memorable milestones, not so much

IMG_1582.JPGSince the day you were born you were placed in a car. Traveling for family visits, vacations, to birthday parties, practices and school. For 15 years, a decade and a half in fancy terms, I’ve been in a car. Never have I desired to be behind the wheel. Considering I thought cars ran like the pedal car I used to have, I never thought I’d make it.

And yet, here I am. At 15 I finally got my permit, look out New Albany I’m on the roads!

When my parents got their licenses, they were “stoked”. It was a ticket to freedom, a path to the future. For me, I put it off because I just didn’t care if I drive or not. Times have changed and my destinations are limited anyway. All I need is to get to school, practice, and games; that’s my life. So no, I wasn’t that excited to drive.

I feel like the reason people nowadays don’t care about driving as much is technology. Not a cool GPS, what I mean is our ability to stay connected is so commonplace and given. We don’t need a car when you can FaceTime and be wherever, whenever.

According to an article in the Chicago Tribune by Jerry Davich, a steadily rising number of teenagers are putting off driving too. Research by University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute said teens are actually putting it off. With technology being the real “passport to independence”, we don’t need to leave our seat to buy music, movie, see a friend, and more.

Though technology isn’t the only reason. “Helicopter parenting” also has played the role of wanting to drive, why drive when they can drive you everywhere. That’s how I am, I don’t go anywhere my parents wouldn’t so let’s save gas and go together.

And that leads to the next reason. We’re all greenies whether we want to admit it or not. This generation advocates for doing anything rather than driving anywhere. According to the 2015 National Community and Transportation Preference Survey, more 18 to 34-year-olds prefer walking over driving.

I’ll admit, statistics are scaring most parents and teens away. After reading Jerry Davich’s article, his personal account and facts, I realized I did want to drive. I was never as glued to my phone as most teenagers, but after going to the BMV I totally did a U-turn in my head.

Taking the test wasn’t stressful and preparing was basic. Signing forms and taking a photo was mediocre. But when I could be in control, I was buzzing.

Yes, I know I’m totally contradicting myself. But listen, I had no desire with everyone around me being able to drive and just bring me along. Then I had to put my hands at 10 and 2, I switched a turn signal and pressed the gas. I fell in love at first turn.

My dad let me drive home, and we’ve practiced for days. I’m surprisingly calmer than I thought, I’m aware and picking up quick. I haven’t messed up once, okay that might be a little lie. Practice makes perfect, and I’ll be over driving in circles soon.

If I changed, is this research all irrelevant because as soon as we’ve experienced it we change? Like taking a bite out of a new food, you never know until you try it. I went to look for more research, starting a general Google search, only to get bombarded with negative articles on how bad teenagers are. What are they bad about? Cell phones.img_1587Cell phones seem to be the number one target when attacking a teen who could drive saying “they’ll be distracted”. Teenagers like to feel responsible and in control. That’s why we play our music loud and wear what we want. It’s a way to not only express ourselves, but to be individuals. One thing people don’t think of is why we’d ever even think about using cell phones in a car. My opinion: I follow what I see.

Parents try to keep up with this technological world to try and protect their kids. One thing they do is text and call. How many times do they do that while they’re driving? According to the American Psychological Association, parents are the main culprit in distracted teen driving.

More than half of teens talk on their cell phones with their mother or father while driving. When researchers from the APA interviewed 400 teens, ages 15-18, they said their parents expected to be able to reach them. Whose parents don’t want to know all the W’s of what’s going on, but of all people who could distract you, shouldn’t they know better? Parents responded by saying, and you’ll be shocked, “everyone is doing it”.

If that doesn’t shock you I don’t know what will. Maybe the fact that distracted driving is one of the leading causes of crashes among all drivers. 11% of teens are in fatal crashes, and of those, 21% involved cell phones, according to a 2013 report by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Not only should teenagers still be taught this, but parents should see their role in this deadly risk.

“Parents need to understand that this is not safe and emphasize to their children that it’s not normal or acceptable behavior,” said Noelle LaVoie, PhD, a cognitive psychologist based in Petaluma, California. Parents also need to be on their best behavior when it comes to driving with us in the car; we follow their influences. If your parent uses a phone while driving, you are just as likely to because they deemed it okay.

Driving is too simplified today. We are so used to transportation that we don’t feel like it’s that important, parents and teens alike. The ability to drive is difficult, learning takes more practice than you’d think. It’s vital that we cover how important it is so people take it seriously. Although, driving is a freedom as old as transportation, let’s make sure we can all enjoy the road and the feeling behind the wheel now and in the future.

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