Don’t get me wrong, Brandon is a good driver. I’ve been so proud of the way he’s handled himself in the car the past nine months. I’m very excited for him. I remember the first time I got behind the wheel all by myself. I was cheering for a high school basketball game. My mom let me take the car to pick up my best friend and drive to the high school. Even though we were in a 1976ish station wagon the size of a small boat, Pam and I thought this was the coolest thing ever. A door to a new kind of freedom opened up on that first drive and life was never the same. Today is that day for him.
I have to admit though, I’m worried. The statistics are sobering when it comes to teenage driving. I hate to be Debbie Downer on such a special day in his life, but here are just a few I came across, from http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-facts-about-teen-driving#
- 33 percent of deaths among 13 to 19-year-olds in 2010 occurred in motor vehicle crashes.
- 16-year-olds have higher crash rates than drivers of any other age and in their first year of driving, 1 in 5 16-year old drivers has an accident.
- 56 percent of teens said they talk on the phone while driving and talking on the phone can double the likelihood of an accident.
- Statistics show that 16 and 17-year-old driver death rates increase with each additional passenger and crash risk for teens increase incrementally with each mile per hour over the speed limit.
- Only 44 percent of teens said they would definitely speak up if someone were driving in a way that scared them.
- More than 40 percent of teen auto deaths occur between the hours of 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
So Brandon, if you are reading this, here’s what I want to tell you. My concern for you as a new driver is not because I don’t think you’re a good driver, I do. It’s because I’ve been there. I’ve been in high school and I know what goes on. I’ve seen serious car accidents and have been in them myself. I’ve seen the drinking and driving and the car loads of kids with the music so loud you couldn’t hear yourself think. I’ve ridden with friends who terrified me with their driving and I never said a word. And I didn’t even have to deal with cell phones and texting. Something that has become such an ingrained part of our life, it’s hard for even adults to stop doing it. I’ve witnessed the speeding and goofing off and know what can happen even if YOU are doing everything right. But mostly, my concern is because I’m your mom. Because I love you. You and Catie are the most precious things in my life. Because I don’t ever want to live a day without you in it. It’s hard for me to watch you grow up but I know I must. I get a little sad, but also very proud, each time I cross something off my list of things you no longer need me for. I’m going to miss the one-on-one time I have with you when I’m driving you places, as that seem to be the only time we really get to talk, but I know there are new adventures ahead for us and new memories to be made.
So enjoy this right of passage, but as you navigate through tough choices as a new driver, always remember I’m here for you. Your dad and I will pick you up anytime, anywhere, no questions asked. You are lucky to have an abundance of amazing aunts and uncles who are much cooler than I am and can keep a secret as well. Use them. Most importantly, have fun. This is the start of some of the best days of your life. And I hope no matter where you are, you’ll hear my voice whispering those three important words…use your blinker!!