The dreaded day has come. The driving instructor came knocking on our door this morning at 10:05, and after 15 minutes of instructions at the curb, my first-born daughter accelerated off into the dark unknown. OK, maybe I'm being a little dramatic. It was bright daylight. But for all you parents of teens or soon-to-be teens who think that you have all kinds of time before you have to worry about your children driving, well, you don't.
If you read my blog at all, you know that my teenager driving is my worst nightmare. Something I've been stressing over for the past year or so. Why? Well, it might have something to do with the fact that car accidents are the leading cause of death for kids ages 16-19.
I should relax and trust the process a little more. Driving laws are a lot tougher now. Ever since they enacted the Graduated Driver's License Law in California in 1998, the first state in this country to do so, traffic fatalities in teenagers have been reduced significantly. In the first two years after passage of the law, teen passengers killed and injured in crashes involving 16-year-old drivers decreased by 40 percent in this state.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
I should remember that I was sitting where she was once, A VERY LONG TIME AGO. And look at me . . . I've stayed alive long enough to be able to write neurotic posts about how scary it is for teenagers to be driving. Truth be told, I think my teenager is already a safer, more cautious driver than I was when I was 16. The first day I got my license, I ran a motorcyclist off the road because I didn't know that he had the same rights to the road as cars. I could have SWORN that I read in the driver's manual that motorcyclists were supposed to drive in the bike lane. They ARE bikes, right?
It's been about an hour since my daughter pulled away from the curb. My cell phone hasn't rung and I haven't heard any sirens off in the distance. So far, so good. I feel a little more relaxed, I guess. Writing this post has helped. And I keep hearing what my oldest sister said, "Lynn, you're going to have to let her grow up sometime."
Now I can move on to my next neurotic episode . . . buying more car insurance so she can practice driving with me.