Shannon Stacey

Sorry, dude in the red Ford

Now that my son is over fifteen and a half years old, we’re supposed to be teaching him how to drive. He has no interest in this endeavor, which baffles me because I was hounding my mother to let me drive before I could see over the steering wheel. But he says he has nowhere he needs to go and, if he does get his license, I’m going to make him go to the grocery store a gazillion times to get the things I forgot and pick up his annoying little brother at school, so he’s good, thanks.

Since I have plans that include him running to the store for me every time I forget something, the child will be learning to drive. What’s interesting, though, is that my husband was told that they’ve changed the hands-on-the-wheel positions. We were all taught (and tested on) hands at ten and two. Then, once that shiny license is in our possession, we go to left hand at nine or twelve and right hand on the arm rest, resting on the shifter knob. Or maybe right hand at six and left hand out the window.

But now, to keep our kids’ forearms free of the airbags, they’re teaching (and testing on) hands at four and eight. Four and eight? That’s just weird. (I know you just held your hands in the four and eight positions. It’s weird, right?)

So on the way home from dropping the Short Kid off at school, I tried driving with my hands at four and eight. It’s unnatural. Weird. And, as the dude in the red Ford discovered, I found it very awkward and difficult to make a sweeping left-hand turn.

So I’ve decided three things…

1) I really don’t need to tell this story to my husband. It only counts if the dude in the red Ford and I actually swapped paint.

2) One the Tall Kid has passed the test, we’ll teach him how to really hold a steering wheel.

3) My husband should probably be the one doing the teaching. I’m a little too prone to vehicular drama.

Although I do have a spotless record. Never so much as a parking ticket. There was that one time I backed into my husband’s truck in the driveway, though. I thought I’d never hear the end of it, until 10+ years later, he backed his truck into the house. And point goes to the Missus.

14 comments to “Sorry, dude in the red Ford”

  1. Carin
      · May 5th, 2011 at 11:47 am · Link

    I was the wierd one in my high school, not really interested in learning to drive. I waited until I was 17. I clearly remember turning my first corner with my mom in the passenger seat. I would have gone into the ditch if she hadn’t reached out and yanked the wheel over. I pulled over and cried that I didn’t want to do it. She told me I had to. I think it was because of the trips to the grocery store she wanted me to make for her!

  2. library addict
      · May 5th, 2011 at 12:01 pm · Link

    I didn’t get my license until I was in my 20s. Came back from England for my senior year of high school and was traumatized by the school’s driving instructor :P

    The nice thing was I already had a job, so paid for driving lessons and bought a car myself.

    Despite the high school incident, I am a firm believer that kids should be taught to drive by non-relatives. Cuts way down on the tension level for everyone.

    And I agree that 8 and 4 is just strange.

    Good luck to TK!

  3. Shannon
      · May 5th, 2011 at 12:13 pm · Link

    I’ve seen a few tweets from Maya Banks about sending her now-licensed son to the store for her and I totally want in on it!

    And I really don’t think parents are the best teachers, either. He’ll take drivers’ ed, but the school is between contracts with a driving school right now and he has to be 16 before the class ends, which isn’t until toward the end of July.

    But in NH, he can drive with a licensed driver at 15.5, so my husband’s plan is to get him going and take the edge off some of the nerves beforehand. He’s developed responsibility and the ability to make good choices over ten years of riding his ATVs, but it’s a whole new ballgame in a big old Chevy truck.

    So our plan is to let him get some practice now, while he waits for driver’s ed, but he doesn’t seem to be cooperating. :lol:

  4. Jean
      · May 5th, 2011 at 12:55 pm · Link

    If you couldn’t send your kids to the store for you and have them pick up siblings, would you ever, ever pay the extra insurance and let them drive your vehicle? Be honest now. I think not.

    On the other hand, it’s a puzzling trend that many, many kids today have no interest in learning to drive.

    It’s certainly possible to find communities where you can live your life to the fullest without driving an automobile, but most of us are not in those communities. As for kids of legal age refusing to learn to drive, the person who’s never been a parent says, “I guess you’ll be walking a lot kid.” But the part of me that understands reality knows it doesn’t work that way.

  5. Lori
      · May 5th, 2011 at 3:26 pm · Link

    Interesting. My oldest learned 3 and 9. But I agree. 10 and 2 is the best – it gives the most control over the wheel, and isn’t that what’s most important?

    I’m constantly amazed at how little the kids want to drive these days. Oldest does not have that problem, however. We were getting his permit on his 15 1/2 birthday, and his test is scheduled for his 16th. His insistence.

    We’ve made him drive every time he’s in the car. He’s getting his license in 2 weeks. Two weeks. How am I that old?

    Oh, and you should appreciate this since you also live in a house filled with testosterone. I always said that the first thing I’m sending him to the store for once he has his license is tampons.

  6. Danielle
      · May 5th, 2011 at 4:04 pm · Link

    Here in Iowa, at 14 you can get the permit (and drive with an adult) and enroll in drivers ed the next summer. After drivers ed, you can apply for a school permit and drive yourself straight to school and back with one passenger tops from the hours of 6 to 10- which is pretty awesome for a kid at that age. At 16 you are good to go with an intermediate license as long as you don’t get any accidents at anytime before you get your full license at 17.
    I had no need to rush into getting my permit test taken either until I had saved enough to buy my own car, either. It wasn’t until I started dating that I wanted my freedom that comes with 4 wheels… so maybe you shouldn’t feel so bad that TK finds no reason to drive himself around :)

  7. Jewell
      · May 5th, 2011 at 4:51 pm · Link

    First off, four and eight? I’m old school so really don’t like the diminished control aspect of that, but, whatever.

    Second. Wow. This post brought back a flood of memories.

    I wanted my “road warrior” designation the minute I could possibly get it and so did my mom. She’d put me to work at her place of employment when I was twelve, and while she was tired of trying to find me rides in the winter, I was tired of pedaling my bike there in better weather.

    But here are two true facts that I so need to incorporate in some kind of book someday…

    1) My mother did not want to teach me to drive but she wanted me to drive. Hence she got a mid-twenty male coworker to take me out late at night to the Cleveland Metropark system to practice. Me up front, him in back with the case of beer she’d purchased for him.

    2) Mom had a twisted sense of humor. If she was mad at you, heaven knows to what lengths she would go. Thus, since she didn’t like the older couple next door, she’d toy with them. She had lots of buds, some cops. One day she couldn’t pick me up for work and we were too far away for my bike, so….she had two cop friends show up in front of our house, sirens blaring, had them handcuff me and put me in the back of the squad car. And off I went to work.

    And I swear, none of this is made up. The stories I could tell. LOL

  8. Natalie J. Damschroder
      · May 5th, 2011 at 6:36 pm · Link

    Okay, here’s the really weird thing.

    I was taught in a transitional time when they said 10 and 2 gave you the best control because you’re working with gravity, but 9 and 3 were taught by some because it gave the widest range of motion to turn the wheel. I just asked Number One, who took her in-class driver’s ed during the fall, and they taught her 10 and 2!

    Here in PA, you can’t get your permit until you are 16. Then you have to have 6 months of driving with a parent (or whatever) and log a certain number of hours before you can test for the license. Number One is eager to do it, though, and she won’t mind the errands. :)

    I didn’t get mine until I was 17 and had graduated high school. I got my permit in MA but moved to NY and had to get it again. I took a safe driver course that was required for the license, but just wasn’t comfortable having JUST that. I got on-the-road DE for free but not until the second half of my senior year, so I just waited. I didn’t HAVE to have it before that, and I imagine a lot of kids feel that way now, too.

  9. MJ
      · May 5th, 2011 at 8:47 pm · Link

    My son was 17 1/2 before he decided it was okay if he got a license. I was getting REALLY tired of racing across town to pick him up from HS. I thought it was really weird he wanted to wait, but it does seem to be a trend. Saved me a year and a half of insurance, though, I guess.

  10. Angela James
      · May 6th, 2011 at 7:42 pm · Link

    I’ve told Josh the 4 and 8 story and caused him some great consternation, an extended diatribe on why that sounds wrong, accompanied by a visual explanation of why this makes no sense and is just plan wrong.

  11. library addict
      · May 8th, 2011 at 10:52 pm · Link

    Everyone I’ve mentioned this to this week thinks 4 and 8 is just wrong. Except my 70 year old uncle who looked at me and said it was because of airbags (hadn’t gotten to that part yet) and looked at me like “Duh! You don’t do that?”

    I confess I even tried it. But quickly went back to 10 and 2 :P

  12. Natalie J. Damschroder
      · May 8th, 2011 at 11:12 pm · Link

    Besides the fact that at 4 and 8 you have to fight gravity and therefore give up a significant amount of control, the whole airbag thing just doesn’t make sense to me.

    Sure, the airbag is in the middle of the steering wheel, and at 8 and 4 you’re below the place where it’s CURRENTLY HOUSED. But when it deploys, it expands many times further than that housing, and with enough force that your arms are going to get shoved away no matter what. If they’re at 10 and 2 or 9 and 3, they should be fine.

    Now, if you have one hand at 12 and the other elbow on the door, you might get a broken arm or smack yourself in the nose. :)

  13. Shannon
      · May 9th, 2011 at 11:47 am · Link

    I actually had a friend in high school who always rode with his arm out the window. He lost control of his pickup and went into the woods. Would have been totally uninjured except his arm was sheered off at the elbow. I’ve never forgotten that.

    I’m actually going to try to find out this weekend if this is a state-mandated change, or the opinion of the local driving instructor. It’s stupid and awkward and neither my husband nor I feel it’s a secure way to hold the wheel.

    If my son ends up with an airbag deploying, some chemical burns on his arms or even a broken forearm are very fixable. But we think holding the wheel at 4 & 8 actually increases the possibility of ending up in an airbag situation, so we’re looking into it.

  14. Jewell
      · May 9th, 2011 at 12:37 pm · Link

    I tried the 4 and 8…and found it to be a position that leaves you in much less control of the vehicle.

    I wouldn’t want anybody to steer a lawnmower that way, let alone someone in a car. Big Fail

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