I have a new theory about why teenaged drivers are so bad. I know the conventional wisdom is that they are young, inexperienced, and think of themselves as invinsible. Their frontal lobe, the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior, is not yet fully developed. I think all of these are probably contributing factors. But I can’t help but think that so many teenaged drivers are bad simply because they are emulating what they’ve learned from their elders.
I’ve been driving my kids to school for three weeks now. It’s usually my husband’s job and I’ll be very happy when he resumes the role of complaining about the idiots at the Middle School. I can go back to just mumbling about the ones at the Elementary School I drive past on my way to work. It’ll be a vast improvement.
The road in front of the middle school is very wide – wide enough for a car on each side to pull over and still leave plenty of room for cars going both directions to pass at the same time. It’s also not a major road. The only traffic is comprised of parents dropping off their children.
And many of these parents have no respect for other drivers and some have an alarming lack of concern about the safety of their children. There’s a crosswalk. It doesn’t have a crossing guard but everyone knows it’s there and tend to watch for people walking in it. The sane parents pull over to the curb near the crosswalk. Their kid gets out and uses the crosswalk. Maybe the parent sits and watches until the kid makes it across the street, and then they pull out and continue in the same direction their car was already pointed.
Yesterday, one mom just stopped in the middle of the road, as many are prone to do, but she took the disregard for all the other drivers a step further when she continued to sit there long after her kid had finished crossing the street. I can only assume she was watching her kid walk all the way into the building. If she’s that concerned (or maybe fears the kid will try to skip?), perhaps she should park in the parking lot and walk him in. She could hold his hand for good measure if she’d like.
I was able to pull over and let Jane out by the crosswalk. By the time Jane made it across the street, the other mom still hadn’t left. I had to come up on her right side and go past her while she still sat in the middle of the road. I don’t get it.
The man today took the cake though. He did pull over – I’ll grant him that much. But he did it way before the crosswalk. I was coming up behind him and was getting ready to go past him when his daughter popped up behind his car, preparing to cross the street clogged with parents bringing their children. I sat there wondering if she was going to go and finally decided she was (wisely) waiting on me. So I started to go on by. At the same time, a car was approaching from the other direction.
At that exact moment, with his daughter standing behind his vehicle and cars approaching from both directions, this dad decided to execute a quick U-turn in the road. Of course, he was trying to do it from a dead stop in an SUV and he’s apparently not that skilled at it, so of course, he wasn’t able to complete the turn. That left him stopped perpendicular in the road; blocking me, blocking his daughter, blocking (and nearly hitting) the car coming from the other direction.
We all waited for His Highness to back up and complete his U-turn before we went about our obviously-much-less-important-than-him ways.
Jane thinks there’s no point in us griping about these people. She thinks we should just wait patiently for their idiocy and selfishness to clear out of our way. She’s obviously never been behind the wheel.
As I pulled away from the Middle School this morning, I switched the audio system back from Aux (we had been listening to Jane’s iPod) to FM. We caught the radio DJ saying, “You just have to forgive young and stupid.”
“What about old and stupid?” I asked. Daryl laughed.
A friend who teaches at the High School assures me it’s not just the Middle School parents. She has dealt with parents blocking her access to the teacher parking lot so they can let their teenaged driver extract band instruments, etc. before walking into the building. The teacher friend then waits as the mom walks around the car to the driver’s seat. Nevermind that the front of the school is the intended location for parent drop off.
I guess this makes sense though. If the parents haven’t matured by the time their kids make it to the Middle School, odds are that their kid transitioning from eighth to nineth grade won’t do the trick either.
So, see? Maybe all the bad teenaged driving is related to all the bad grown-up driving.