Driver’s Ed…yes, it scares the crap out of me

Posted on July 15th, 2011

Today’s teens have it made.

Don’t believe me? Check out driver’s education. I’m telling you, the whole thing has changed from back in the day. Why, when I went to driver’s ed, we had to actually attend a class.

Today’s teens? They go to class on the Internet. They attend at their own pace. They don’t have to get up at 7 AM in the middle of their summer vacation to go to some driving school on the other side of town. Nope. They can roll out of bed, watch “Mythbusters,” eat all the leftovers from last night’s dinner and then decide to do a couple of driver’s ed sessions.

I’m telling you, teens have got it made.

If their ability to take the class at their own pace doesn’t convince you, consider the class itself. When I went to driver’s ed, we sat for hours in a makeshift classroom in an industrial park while a retired police officer scared the holy crud out of us by telling us horror stories about awful car accidents and stupid teenagers whose lives were ruined because they caused a fatal accident and thus had to spend the rest of their lives in prison for the crime of driving while stupid.

Oh, and also? Nobody ever found the driver’s missing arm. The lectures always ended with the instructor bellowing, “Do you know how difficult prison is when you are missing an arm?” Um, no. But thanks for asking.

Of course some of my friends had it worse. They had to attend driver’s ed as an elective at school. It was always taught by the teacher at the high school who had drawn the short stick (or really ticked off the principal) and was now stuck in a car with giggling teenagers, praying that his life insurance policy was paid up.

What we didn’t do was sit on our nice cushy chairs in the den answering questions like “who invented windshield wipers in 1905?” Yeah, that’s a real question my teenager had to answer. I’m sure that knowing the answer to that will keep him safe on the road.

And let’s not even discuss the videos.

Seriously, in my day we spent hours watching movies intended to scare the bejeebers out of us. These movies had actual real footage of real accidents. On Day 1 of driver’s ed, the burly old guy lecturing us let us out for the lunch break with the warning, “don’t eat pizza.” Turns out the film he ran right after the break was “Signal 30,” a classic about a train and a motorcycle.

Guess who didn’t win that race? And guess who ate pizza before seeing it? Yes. Trust me when I tell you it was a very long time before I could even look at pepperoni again, let alone drive over railroad tracks without having a panic attack.

And let’s not forget the all-time driver’s ed pinnacle of teen driving terror, “Wheels of Tragedy.”  Who can forget it? Once you have seen this film it is literally burned into your retinas. Ugh. So many limbs. So much gore. So much fear about driving. People fainted during those films. People ran from the classroom and threw up after watching those films.

And what, you may ask, do teens watch today? Cartoons. Yes. Cartoons. And insurance commercials.

At the end of some of the sections Junior completes, there is a little cartoon man dressed in a hard hat and an orange safety vest waving a yield sign – an indication that Junior needs to watch a DMV sanctioned film. Then he watches a little movie that isn’t scary at all. At the end of some warning about not stopping on train tracks, there isn’t a scene where the train barrels down and hits the guy on the motorcycle. Nope. In fact, the film was so cheery I kind of expected the guy who was the President in “24” to come on and tell Junior that he was in “good hands with Allstate.”

Seriously? How the heck are teens supposed to be scarred for life if they are watching that?

I’m telling you, teens today have it made. Of course, Junior is only 1/3 of the way through his driver’s ed, so I hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, they are saving “Red Asphalt” for the end of the course.

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7 Responses to “Driver’s Ed…yes, it scares the crap out of me”

  1. lisa Says:

    my daughter just finished the classroom portion of driver’s ed. we made her go to the “old fashioned” type. it was held 1/2 mile from our house and she went m-f for three weeks. we were the evil parents and made her walk. she said walking was embarrassing! oh, the drama! i’d like to know since when has walking become an embarrassing activity??!! each day she would come home scared to death after seeing the videos they showed in class. she swears she is never driving on the highway.

  2. Amy H Says:

    My husband & I were actually in Driver’s Ed together when we were 13 yrs old!!! Of course, we didn’t KNOW we’d end up married…. and yes, you could get a driver’s license in Idaho when you were 13 “back n the day!” LMAO!

    Anyway…. our youngest son is 14.5 yrs old and is in Driver’s Ed this summer. He goes to class in an older couple’s GARAGE that’s been converted into a classroom, lol. Of course, there’s NO A/C….and the class starts @ 7 pm when it’s hot, hot, HOT outside (and inside… the garage)! And, get this: he’s learning to drive in a car with a manual transmission!!! The only driving school in town that uses stick shift cars! Every car has a sticker on the back that says “Be patient please. Student driver. Stick shift.” Need I say more??? Hahaha! He has some pretty funny stories to tell!

  3. Laurie Says:

    @Lisa – See? I want Junior scared! I want him to not want to get on the highway. Instead all I hear is, “this is boring.” LOL at walking being an embarrassing activity :)

    @Amy, that’s so cool that you and your husband went to driver’s ed together. But I remember 13. I would not want my son driving at 13. I am dying over the stick shift. Really? With all the crap they have to learn, they thought dropping a stick shift into the mess was a good plan??

  4. Melissa Avery Says:

    This made my day! I blocked out the horror stories I heard in Drivers Ed, something about a burning car, a friend trapped in said car, and an explosion. A true story of course. Can’t wait to teach the boy to drive stick just like my parents did me, on the road with the most stop signs at the top of hills. Ahhh, memories.

  5. Laurie Says:

    LOL @ Melissa. I got trained on a stick shift in the middle of a major city…downtown. I literally scared my mother so badly she and my dad convinced a childless friend to teach me to drive stick shift :)

  6. Susan Greenberg Says:

    Laurie,
    Right back at you! Driver’s ed is so lame nowadays that I’m petrified to drive with my daughter. Check out this UM post:
    http://unvarnishedmom.com/2011/06/29/bracing-for-the-crash/
    Love the MM site! Thanks for the support–
    And keep that seatbelt buckled.

  7. car insurance Says:

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