How to be a teen driver

Taking the next step of maturity on the road

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Carina Muniz

Over the past few days I have learned what it means to be a driver. As a teen driver I play my part to promote safety and responsibility to those just beginning their driving journey.

Carina Muniz, Editor-in-Chief

In the past few days I have taken a big leap into adulthood (no, I didn’t turn 18). Instead, for the first time I was the one behind the wheel instead of an adult; it was the mile marker to becoming a teen on the road. 

On Friday, Jan. 7, I took my first driving lesson with an instructor. Undoubtedly, the first 30 minutes of my lesson were nerve-wracking and stressful as I learned to navigate and maneuver around a Target parking lot. It wasn’t until my instructor informed me that I would be driving on residential roads that I forced myself to relax; being tense only made me more nervous, thus making me doubt my ability to drive confidently.

Being a driver, especially as a teenager, feels liberating and exhilarating. However it should never be forgotten that being a teen driver also means being a safe driver.”

— Carina Muniz

By the end of the lesson I was an entirely new driver —not exactly perfect, but much improved. Safe to say, I was more excited to see that my instructor and I had remained intact, along with the car, rather than actually driving.

With so many lives at risk, the lesson helped me realize that with driving comes major responsibilities. As the number of people in the car increases, so do the risks and responsibilities. These are a few of the things I have learned in my few days as a teen driver:

Distractions are dangerous. Obviously. When driving, distractions must be reduced to the very minimum. Early on, my mother drilled the idea into my head, that distractions are the difference between life and a fatal car crash.

Defensive driving is determined driving. Being a defensive driver means protecting not only others, but myself as well. It means I am constantly thinking ahead and anticipating hazards to avoid accidents before they happen.

Confidence is key. Last but not least, confidence goes a long way, according to my mom. I take this skill most importantly since it is what I know will make me a better driver. When driving, I am always making split-second decisions, so being confident in the decision I make when driving only strengthens my skills. With that, being knowledgeable in the rules of the road will only strengthen my confidence.

All around me, students at Bonita Vista High will and are beginning to mark their first mile on the road as drivers. Being a driver, especially as a teenager, feels liberating and exhilarating. However it should never be forgotten that being a teen driver also means being a safe driver.