I have three stepsons. Great kids. I love them. One of them is 17 and the twins will become 15 next week. And now it will happen again: The twins are old enough to start learning how to drive a car.
It was kind of a challenge for me when my oldest stepson reached that age. He actually took some classes in a driving school (this is not mandatory here). After taking the written test, which was pretty easy, he said,he got his permit to drive the car but always had to be accompanied by an adult who had to be a family member. After doing that for a certain amount of hours he could do the driving test at age 16 and, if he passed, have his own driver’s license.
It still happens sometimes that I sit in my car while I am waiting at an intersection for the lights to turn green again, that I look over to the car waiting next to me. And there I see a boy sitting behind a steering wheel which seems to be much too large for his baby face. Boys who are 16 can look so different. Some of them look like 20, some like 12.
When I was new in this country I was all arrogant about letting kids drive that early. How could they do that? How could they think that kids at this age were reliable and mature enough to drive a car? Wasn’t that too dangerous? But after a while I understood. In most parts of this country there is no public transportation. There are school busses, but that’s it. Families rely on their cars. Without cars they wouldn’t have jobs and the kids couldn’t do all their activities and meet their friends. Life would be impossible without cars. But because there are no other means of transportation it is also a tough job for adults to organize their kids’ life. Usually you need several family members and friends to make that possible. It is a huge relief for parents when their kids start driving themselves to school and baseball practice.
As soon as my oldest step son was 16 and had his own driver’s license he could help chauffeuring his brothers to all of their activities. Andrew, who had played the taxi driver for his kids since they were born, was suddenly unemployed. A fact he really liked (but he also missed the long drives because they gave him an opportunity to spend time with his teenage sons).
I don’t know the statistics. Are there more accidents in America than in Europe because of the young age of the drivers? It doesn’t seem to look like it here, in Maine.