I officially feel old.
It’s not the new music (much of which I actually like) or the high-tech world (I’m a techie kind of guy). It’s not the graying hair or the creaky back.
It has everything to do with teenagers lack of respect. Not for their elders, but for their driver’s licenses. You see, according to a study done in the journal Traffic Injury Prevention, only 31% of 16 year olds are getting their license. Back in 1983, 46% of that age group was begging for the car keys. Older teens and even people in their early 20s are showing similar drops.
According to Michael Sivak, research professor at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute, “Some young people feel that driving interferes with texting and other electronic communication.”
They’d rather text than drive? I suppose that’s great news for people concerned about teenagers who might be tempted to do both, but I’m deeply disturbed. When I turned 16, I couldn’t wait to get my license. It was a ticket to travel the world, or at least my town. I may have done nothing more extraordinary than drive to the library or a friend’s house, but it was freedom. It was also a big step towards manhood. That license meant I could start dating or drive to a job.
Maybe the problem is that their parents have lost the thrill of driving. I remember when I was a kid and my dad would say, “Who wants to go for drive?” I never said no. We never went anywhere spectacular, although there was usually an ice cream cone found along the way. It wasn’t where we went that mattered, it was the ride!
Now I know that a lot has been written about how sitting down around the table for a dinner is important for family bonding and communications. But I think it’s time to bring back the family drive as well. I realize that today’s wired cars with multiple video screens and iPod plugs are not exactly a family communications hub. Still, why not unplug everything and go someplace new. Teach your kids about the world around them. Open up their sense of adventure.
Just make sure there’s an ice cream cone somewhere on the trip.