Good Role Models Lead to Good Drivers
The morning of my 16th birthday I was the first person in line at the DMV. I was excited to get my license and to drive, and after successfully passing the test, I drove home a confident licensed driver. I’ve never looked back since and consider myself lucky. Part of the reason is that I have had fantastic female role models in my driving lifetime.
As my daughters grew up I tried to be a good role model for them behind the wheel. When they see you as masterful not doubtful, as considerate of other drivers and not impatient, and calm under stress, they, too will be confident drivers.
I learned about confidence behind the wheel from my cousin. In 1981 my family went on a road trip and visited her in Atlanta. We were going to go to some touristy location with her and she said she would drive since she was the local. We all piled in to her very tiny car, a stick shift, which I was curious to learn how to drive. I was sitting in the passenger seat and as a new driver I noticed that none of the gauges on her dash were working – including the speedometer. This seemed a little concerning to me so I asked her about it and she said she just drove by ear – when the engine revved high enough she would shift into another gear. She only drove in 3rd gear on city streets, and that way she new that if the engine started to rev too high she was going too fast.
Later, we were on the highway when one of the tires blew but she just slowed down a bit and kept driving. She didn’t have any change of expression on her face. She just kept driving. My dad said “Hey cousin, I think you have a flat tire” She just calmly replied “I know, but the exit is just up there so I’m going to get off the highway and then we can change the tire.” It seemed to me that this was perhaps not her first flat tire and that she knew what to do when the car broke down.
Yes, my cousin was a little bit nuts but she had great confidence behind the wheel. I have thought about her often over the many miles of road I have covered and I will always remember the look on her face that afternoon and what a calm, confident, strong driver looks like. My cousin is still quite a character; she has an image posted on her Facebook page that depicts her ‘version’ of driving a stick; clearly she still enjoys being a master behind the wheel.
I’m grateful to her, and to all the other women who helped teach me to be a good driver and how to be a prepared driver so that I might be a role model for my daughters – although I might recommend having a better strategy for dealing with a flat tire.