Turning 15 has one meaning known universally to us, and all too well to our parents… it means it’s time to drive. Everyone remembers the first time they got behind the wheel of a car. Whether it was a dramatic movie moment, or simply begging for your turn in an office parking lot (like me), the first time you drive is a memory that you will have forever.
What comes after you get behind the wheel, the actual driving part is a little different. The memories go from joyful to fearful as you soon discover the difficulty that comes with learning to drive. For me, there were a few things that stood out among the rest.
I think that one thing every new driver struggles with is remembering all of the fundamentals of driving. When I say this, I mean keeping up with speed limit, blinkers, and the extensive list of the rules of “who goes when.” Out of all of the basics that I had to learn, one of the most difficult concepts to me was the operation of the petals. Of course, it seems simple enough. I was always under the impression that you press the pedal down to a certain extent to go a constant speed. I had no idea that it is a relentless battle of pushing down and letting up just to maintain one continuous speed. And I don’t even think that it would be that hard, without the pressure of everyone else on the road behind me. If I go too fast, I may crash into someone, and if I go too slow, I may cause someone to crash into me. Therefore, I must keep a constant eye on my speed, while also paying attention to stop lights, staying in my lane, and somehow reading the mind of every other driver around me.
Which leads me to my next point. Along with the hardship of remembering all of the rules that I need to abide by comes the hardship of dealing with the drivers that don’t. I think everyone knows who I’m talking about. The one person who thinks that they own the road, and have their own set of rules. Four way stops are already hard enough, with the careful calculation of who should go next. Which is exactly why I don’t need someone just to come rolling through without a thought. It totally throws me off my game. These are the same people who get right up behind you, even when you are going the speed limit, and the people who think that everyone else knows exactly what they are planning. News flash: I’m just trying to make it a mile without a catastrophe, I don’t have enough space in my head to be worried about whether or not you are going to abide by the basic rules of the road.
With enough concentration and careful attention, I can usually make it to my destination unscathed. However, once I get there, I face a struggle all on its own… parking. I don’t think that it is meant to be a game of guess and check, but that is certainly what it feels like. Of course, I am extremely careful not to hit the other cars. In fact, I usually go to the very back of the lot to avoid the danger of hitting another car around me. However, sometimes this isn’t an option. And then, once I pull into a space, I know that I am going to have to pull back out. If there is anything worse than parking, it’s leaving the parking space. There are so many directions for cars and people to appear from, and I have to constantly check all sides of the car while also trying to back out straight enough to keep from hitting the cars next to me. Even though parking can be a difficult process, nothing beats the satisfaction of making it between the lines on the first try.
And last but not least, there is the struggle of ignoring the radio. I am the type of person who loves to turn the radio all the way up, belt the words to every song, play 50 air instruments at once, and do a spastic dance at the same time. However, when I am behind the wheel, this isn’t really a possibility. I still may belt the words, but I have to sacrifice the epic drum solo and “creative” dance moves. It may not be the same, but I think everyone else around me would appreciate it if I made an effort to keep my hands on the wheel rather than my air guitar. Although I am sure that it will get easier, learning to drive is certainly a process, unlike many others. Especially since every mistake holds real danger. Some things come easy, while the simplest things seem to require the most amount of thought. I certainly don’t think I’ll be going anywhere without my parents in the passenger’s seat anytime soon!
Ella Thomas is a sophomore at Brookwood High School.