Major Anxiety Attack: My Daughter’s Going to Drive

Sometime after your child is born, you start to have visions of their future. I did when my daughter Rose came into this world. I saw her taking her first wobbly steps, pushing off on her first lurching bike ride and tentatively pushing down on the gas pedal the first time she drove a car. Well, I’ve survived two out of three of those experiences and now, as Rose reached her fifteenth birthday a while back, I am preparing for the third.

The great thing about Rose is she extremely mature for her age. The worrisome thing about Rose is she is very mature for her age. It’s worrisome because this also means she can be headstrong and over confident. Of course, she’s been looking forward to this next event in her life for the past few years. For a girl who is quite independent, she sees driving as being the ultimate statement of her independence.

The Car

Of course, the irony is not lost on me that my self-sufficient daughter will be driving a car that her gracious and generous grandmother bought for her last summer. Grandma has good taste and timing, as late last summer she presented Rose with a red Mazda Miata (yes a crimson car for a girl with a name that is richly reminiscent of red).

Since that time, my daughter has been polishing, detailing and sitting in the driver’s seat mock driving her prized possession. And despite the fact that she is just about at the age when teens start to drive, I don’t think that she quite gets the seriousness of the situation.

Teen Driving Stats and Facts

We have discussed the fact that getting your driver’s license and driving your own car involves a lot of responsibility and expense. There’s car insurance, gas and maintenance. And there’s all of those statistics. We went to the GEICO website together to read through and discuss them. Here are a few of the more anxiety-producing ones.

Over 74,000 young people die or are injured each year when not wearing their seatbelts.
In their initial year behind the wheel, 1 in 5 16-year-old drivers has an accident.
Finally, a 16-year-old is 20 times more likely to be killed in a car crash than an adult.
My daughter knows all of these statistics and more, but I don’t know if she understands them.

Plus there’s the fact that the only way to learn how to drive in severe weather, at night and in bad traffic is by doing so. Experience is the primary teacher when it comes to driving. Then there’s the cost.

Teen Drivers and Costs

Insurance costs for teen drivers are certainly high for good reason. Just consider the stats stated above. Driver training, good student discounts and a solid driving record can cut insurance expenses. Limiting a teen’s driving time is a good way for teens to get experience and limit costs. Of course, that’s one idea that’s not going over well with Rose.

Finally, there are the other costs. Gas prices are about as unpredictable as the weather in New England and car maintenance costs can creep up on you quickly, especially with emission control regulations and the forgetful nature of teens.

I can hear it now, “Oh, the brakes have been squealing like that for awhile. I forgot to tell you. I didn’t know brakes had drums?” Well, they do and they can ne expensive.

I am preparing myself. I’ve checked out auto insurance quotes and have read her car’s maintenance manual. What else can I do as I sit here on the cusp of a new event in my daughter’s and my life? She will definitely be getting her driver’s license soon.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Do you have a teen driver? Are you going through the same feelings of excitement and anxiety that I am? How have you weathered it? I really want to know!