I’ve actually been thinking about this day for at least three years with the same amount of trepidation that is associated with thinking about a root canal. Nevermind the increase in insurance premiums, dented fenders, speeding tickets, parking tickets, running over the family dog, running over your brother or the phone call from the police that there has been a terrible accident. Teaching your teen to drive is tantamount to assigning a long period of your life to constant tachycardia.
I truly believe that Great Britain does it better than we do. While visiting there last summer, I noted that some cars had a giant, bright red “L” on the rear bumper. When I inquired about it, I was told that everyone who is new to driving must have this affixed to the front and rear of their car while driving until they pass their theory test, the earliest of which they can take is three months before age 17, but won’t become valid until the age of 17.
After a driver passes their test, many opt (though it is entirely voluntary) to have a green P or probationary plate that indicates their lack of experience while driving. In Australia, this is a requirement for three years. Personally, I think they should add this to anybody who rents a car in Britain, but has never driven on the left before. Sure would have made my life easier at the time, but that’s another story.
In any event, I think it’s good to know that the someone in front, beside or behind you may not know exactly what they are doing, in some way other than observing the stop and start jerking that goes on while trying to park, as Bugs experienced trying to pull into a parking spot by Starbucks while the guy pulling in nose to nose to him chuckled while he watched.
The sticker idea seems to have caught on in New Jersey, as they have passed a law recently that mandates a red sticker on the license plate of any driver under the age of 21.
Curiously, there are many web sites where you can buy magnetic stickers to attach to your car that say there is a student/new driver, and I’m seriously contemplating getting some. Apparently, the students don’t mind because there is less honking and yelling at them when they are going too slow or making mistakes. http://www.autoblog.com/2010/03/25/new-jersey-drivers-under-21-required-to-affix-red-sticker-to-car/5
When I approached Bugs about this during the first couple of days of driving, he gave me an emphatic NO. A week later, he changed his mind.
“Maybe that sticker thing would be a good idea,” he said while trying to negotiate a lane change that pissed off somebody behind him.
“Really?” I said, smiling. Too bad it’s not possible to just clear the roads several times a year and only allow new drivers out. But then again, that might be a bit like setting up bumper cars. Better stick to the stickers.
If anyone has a new driver, the following website has got some great magnetic stickers. http://www.hamiltonsafety.com/driving-signs.html