My 8-year-old son told me recently some of the things he is going to do when he starts driving. He wants to take a trip to Six Flags, like we did this summer, and I can even come along! While it is scary to think about my son driving a car, I know it is something that will be here soon enough. While at Six Flags this summer he wanted to go on the cars ride over and over again. Kids have pretended to drive since the invention of automobiles. There is just something so appealing about being able to steer a car to a location of your choice. The day that a teen can skip the bus and drive their car to school is a day that can’t come soon enough for most. Cars are dangerous, though. They are heavy and fast. And like your mother told you, there are other people out that who are not as solid behind the wheel as you are.
At this point in my life I am not dealing with any of my children asking for the car. Instead I am involved in the lives of many teenagers who spend a lot of their time driving around. This is something that amazes me considering the cost of gasoline. Still, even in a state where there are strict “Junior Operator” laws, I have had a number of conversations with students who have broken the rules. I had one person tell me how fast they got their car on the highway, stating that they just had to see how fast it could go. There is a section of the highway referred to as “suicide alley” with good reason. Then there are others who have bragged about their numerous traffic stops and how they were able to get out of yet another ticket. Then there are others who have decided that the rules about not having teen passengers in their cars until their restrictions on that are lifted just don’t apply to them. I have heard people say, “I just don’t like to drive alone.”
In youth ministry we have also noticed a very real tug away from our ministry when a student gets their drivers’ license. There are just so many more options available and friends who need rides places. There is also an attitude change that many experience. It is that attitude that concerns me.
The attitude is one of feeling carefree and invincible. Driving fast into the parking lot might seem fun, but there are kids running around out there. Peeling out of the driveway might sound awesome, but it also can damage your car or cause you to lose control of yours. Speeding through residential areas might seem like harmless fun, but what if that neighborhood has small children playing in it. We have seen people racing down our road and it is scary because of how many people are around. It only takes one mistake and someone is dead. What if there are accidents that can be avoided just by following the rules?
In all the statistics out there, we still see teen drivers having more crashes per mile than any other group. In many of them speeding is involved and there are other teens in the vehicle. They found that the later it was in the night the more likely it was that the driver would have been drinking. That is not a good mix.
I am not advocating more laws because laws are just broken. It is just a good idea for parents to keep tabs on their children and not let their guard down. I have been to a funeral of a 16-year-old killed in a car accident and it is not something I want to do again. We can help our children make wise choices by communicating with them and paying attention to what they are doing. There needs to be an understanding that driving is a privilege not a right. Too many times I have seen parents unwilling to take the car away because they have appreciated not having to chauffeur their child around anymore. Laziness just leads to dangerous consequences. A little inconvenience for you because the rules were broken just might save a life. I would say that is worth it, don’t you?
Statistics Source — Teen Passengers and Drivers a Deadly Mix