June 8, 2024
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June 8, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

The Responsibility Of Driving a Car

(Credit: Freepik)

There is much excitement in families as teenagers reach the age at which their state of residence allows them to drive. I have learned that many here go to driving school, and some practice with their parents (usually dads, as moms are too nervous). That 17th birthday means freedom for many teens.

I remember when I got my driver’s license, passing on my first try, I was so excited but I do not think my parents were. When I was allowed to take the car, which was never a given, I was allowed to drive only within the borders of Jericho, New York. For any of you who know that area, it actually meant that I could drive within about a mile radius. Today I hear parents saying how much easier life will be for them now, as their newly minted driver will be able to take on some of the responsibilities of driving younger siblings around as well as doing errands for the family.

After so many years of observing young drivers, particularly on Queen Anne Road when leaving The Jewish Link office or walking on local streets and watching them scoot around, I need to share my concern about allowing kids to drive the car without necessary training and discipline.

Some drive with no concern for pedestrians. Everyone knows that parking lots are some of the most dangerous places to drive a car. Certainly it is necessary to drive slowly and look carefully, as cars are entering and backing out of parking spaces all the time. This past week I noticed in the Grand and Essex parking lot two young girls driving together who noted a space and were after it without looking in either direction to see if anyone else was coming. Perhaps it is a status symbol to take the car and give friends rides. I am not sure. However, that certainly does not give the driver the go-ahead to not keep their eyes on the road as they merrily engage in discourse with whoever their friend or friends are who are sitting in the car next to them.

I can’t imagine one of us disputing the fact that the entries and exit ways on Route 4 must have been created by an imbecile. The best of drivers has to take a big breath as they try to merge onto the road with tons of traffic coming toward them. If that is the case for experienced drivers, how much more so for those with little experience at all? I think the state of New Jersey Department of Motor Vehicles should post one of their driving examiners on that route in particular when testing a person to see if they are eligible to receive a license. Two days after receiving a license, the young 17-year-old driver is off to the mall! Who goes there without going on Route 4? If I was the parent of a young child off on this excursion five days after receiving a license I would be davening the entire time.

Kids are receiving permission to take the “extra” family car up to the Catskills or wherever their camp is located. “It will be easier for them on their days off.” I remember all of those years when no one had a car at camp and no one seemed to be any the worse for it.

I have been trying to figure out why something that was once considered very scary and not allowed has become commonplace today. Everything I write does not apply to everyone but it seems to me that parents today are not as much in control of their children as our parents were. There is so much pressure to do what everyone else is doing that the power to say no has become lessened over time. No one wants to be the “bad” one, the evil mother, the mean father. If Johnny next door is allowed to start driving around with his friends four days after he gets his license, how can I as a parent not allow my child to do the same?

What happened to the power of just saying no? Why are we so afraid to assert authority, even when we know that it is for the safety and protection of those we love unconditionally? No one wants to be considered the villain, but there are times when parents have to learn that they are not the children’s best friends but they are their protectors and trainers for a successful life in the future. It is almost as though the parents have to grow up and accept full responsibility for the actions of their children.

What everyone thinks will never happen to them seems to frequently happen to those who least expect it. Do not live life in a daze and accept the responsibility we have in deciding whether to allow our children to begin driving before they actually have the experience to do so. A car is a deadly weapon and a license is a piece of paper with little meaning. Please try to keep that in mind. Especially now as the summer is approaching and kids are playing everywhere, warn your young drivers that stop signs have meaning and speed limits do as well. I have seen too many inexcusable actions on the part of young drivers lately. Traffic rules are meant to be followed. Just maybe we need to rethink our mindset of permissiveness.


Nina Glick can be reached at [email protected].

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