Driver’s License at Sixteen

3 Aug 2017 Karina S. Henkel

Oh, when I moved here, I was terrified to see all these kids driving a car. Boys that looked as if they were only twelve years old were passing me on the highway, and I watched them, horrified, driving their cars, convinced that they would cause an accident any minute.

When my oldest stepson started taking driving classes a couple of years ago, he was fifteen. Fifteen!!! He practiced with his mother and father and got his permit at sixteen. With this permit, he was allowed to drive a car alone, but every passenger who would accompany him had to be older than 18, except for his siblings.

One day Andrew asked me if I would loan his son my car. I refused. I felt guilty as hell, knowing that driving a car at sixteen is normal and often also necessary in this country, but I could not bear the thought of giving a sixteen-year old boy my brand new car. Whenever I saw him driving I cringed because I instinctively knew that nobody should drive a car before he or she is eighteen – just because that was how I was used to it in Germany.

And now look at me today!

The twins are seventeen now. They have jobs and visit their friends, but adults still have to bring them to their work and friends and pick them up again - several times a week. The family shares that task, and the parents don’t mind doing that at all. They are happy to play taxi drivers for the twins.

But not me!

Although the twins are seventeen now they are somehow not very eager to practice driving in order to get their permits. But instead of cheering them for being slow (for American standards) in this respect, I am complaining about it! Since the day they were sixteen I have been waiting for them to do their own driving.

A couple of years ago, I would have thought it to be totally normal that they have no driver’s licenses at that age. But today, I have changed my mind totally. I am actually a little annoyed that they are still not able to drive by themselves. Isn’t that strange? How could I have changed my opinion so radically? Suddenly it is not only ok for me that these “babies” drive cars at sixteen, I actually demand it. Sometimes I am surprised how easy it is for me to change lifelong habits and beliefs, just by living in a different country.

The picture “Student Driver” for this article is copyright (c) 2011 Kate Ter Haar and made available under an Attribution  2.0-Generic License