Is it really freedom?

When I’m teaching new drivers I will ask them why they are taking our training course. Most of their answers are to get their license, to learn to drive safely and to gain confidence. Lately, I’ve had the answer of “to get my freedom”. Does driving for you mean you’ve got freedom?For the most part, driving for me means I can come and go as I please. I can leave for work when I want to, got to the store and have complete mobility whenever I want it. If I took public transit, I have to wait for the bus to show up and it may take longer as it stops to pick up other passengers. Some of the areas I teach don’t have public transit, so this means more to them perhaps.

Does driving mean more freedom, more responsibility; or maybe both? I may be able to go when and where I want to go, but it also means I need to ensure my vehicle is taken care of and that I pay for licenses and insurance. The cost of freedom gets higher and higher every year.

Getting a license and driving a vehicle takes responsibility that others can’t seem to grasp. Ever since I was 16 years old; which was a very long time ago, I’ve heard of the provincial government wanting to raise the driving age up to 18. That doesn’t solve the problem of crashes. Crashes are highest in the age group of 16 to 24. The freedom that we gain, we can lose in seconds because of our actions.

The freedom we gain from getting our drivers license means we have the freedom to stand up for ourselves in a court of law; the freedom to pay the tickets; the freedom to pay higher insurance; the freedom to be suspended because of our actions as drivers; the freedom to go to the hospital to visit our friend who was injured in a vehicle we were driving; the freedom to visit the funeral home. This is freedom?

As a parent of 4 kids, and like most parents, I worry about my kids. But I also have to show my trust in them. If I show them this trust at an early age, perhaps they will honestly earn the freedom to drive the family vehicle in a responsible manner. I feel that I need to use strict rules when my kids begin driving. I want to show my trust, but I have to be realistic as well.

There was a recent US study that showed young men will drive a little more recklessly when they have other males in the vehicle, but a little more cautiously when they are alone or with a female. The more people that are in a vehicle with a young person, they tend to abuse the freedom of driving.

Let’s give them the freedom of mobility, but remind them that it can be taken from them…in a split second.


Author’s Bio: Scott Marshall is Director of Training for Young Drivers of Canada (www.yd.com). Recently he has been a judge on the first three seasons of Canada’s Worst Driver on Discovery Network. Scott started writing columns on driving for his community paper over 4 years ago. Since then his columns have been printed in several publications including newspaper, magazines and various web-sites. Now he has his own blog at http://safedriving.wordpress.com. You can reach Scott via e-mail with any questions or comments at safedriver36@yahoo.ca.