If you’re a baby boomer like me you probably remember driving somewhere with one of your parents, sitting on that big wide bench front seat, no seat belts, shoulder harnesses or child safety seats to strap you down and hold you in place. Remember the totally freedom you had to slide across the seat from their side to the passenger window to take a closer look at the world passing by, free to jump over into the backseat whenever we wanted. Yeah, the good old days before safety became a top priority.
When I was around six or so my dad would sometimes let me sit on his lap behind the wheel and let me drive. Oh I knew he was in control, but it felt great to have my hands on the steering wheel, craning my neck to try and see over the dashboard. Every so often he’d take his hands off the wheel, oh he didn’t move them far, but for those few moments I felt like I was actually driving. It was so cool.
Before that I had a car seat with a steering wheel mounted on it. It had two metal arms that sat over the back of the seat to hold it in place. It definitely wasn’t designed for safety, there were no straps or belts, it was only a novelty to entertain kids while on the road. I still remember the bright red, plastic steering wheel with the yellow horn button. I used to sit in that thing until I could no longer fit. It was a lot of fun.
Yeah we had this infatuation with driving. We wanted to drive just like mom and dad! Hell, I still love to drive! And to think, it all started with a red plastic steering wheel! Kids are still the same today, they want to drive. Sadly, some parents are taking it to a whole new level. The following two news story will illustrate what I mean.
In the first story some guy gets drunk, decides he needs something from the store, realizes he’s too drunk to drive, which is a good thing, but then decides to let his 9 year old daughter drive him in his full size work van! He grabs a child’s booster seat for her, straps her in the drivers seat and away they go!
When they arrived at the gas station market he brags to the clerk that his 9 year old daughter was driving him around because he’d been drinking and she was his “designated driver”! The entire conversation was captured on videotape. This guy must have really been toasted. Letting a 9 year old drive him around town is insane! What was this guy thinking? Better yet, what was he drinking? Risking his daughter’s life for a trip to the store in the middle of the night. Come on!
He later refused a breathalyzer test and was arrested for child abuse. He was also charged with being a habitual offender for convictions on four previous felonies and could get up to 15 years if convicted. He’d also been previously convicted of drunk driving and lost his license for a year. I guess he didn’t want to take a chance of losing it again. Incredibly, when the police pulled the pair over the 9 year old appeared surprised and asked the officer,”What did you stop me for? I was driving good.” Apparently not good enough.
The other incident involved a 9 year old, a boy who drove himself to school while his mother sat comfortably in the passenger seat. No, she hadn’t been drinking. She simple gave into the boy after he begged her to let him drive to school. Since they didn’t live far from the school I guess she figured ‘why the hell not!’ Witnesses watched in amazement as the boy pulled into the elementary school parking lot, parked the car and waved goodbye to his mom. She then drove the car home. Mom was later arrested and charged with reckless endangerment and endangering the welfare of a child. In her defense it should be noted that the boy had at least 4 years of driving experience. Mom had been allowing him to drive in a field near their home since he was 5. Mom’s, gotta love em!
So what’s up with these parents anyway? I wouldn’t let any 9 year old drive a vehicle except maybe in an extreme emergency. The concept of permissive parents allowing their children to drive is nothing new. When I was growing up I’d hear stories about kids driving to the store for parents, but they were 14 or fifteen, not 9 year old’s! Come on parents, in today’s rapid paced society kids grow up quick enough already, we don’t need to speed things up anymore. Letting a 9 year old drive is irresponsible and dangerous. Use some common sense people. Nine year old’s should be riding bikes, scooters or skate boards, not automobiles. I would never allow a 9 year old to drive a vehicles, except maybe in an extreme emergency and even then I’m not so sure. I really don’t think most 9 year old’s would even want to drive a car, except maybe on X-Box. I could be wrong.
Lastly, what about the little 7-year-old kid ( he’s 9 now) who a couple of years ago escaped from church one Sunday morning, found a car in the parking lot with the keys in it and stole it! He then proceeded to lead police on a car chase all over town. At one point police tried to block him in, but the kid outsmarted them and turned down a side street. Eventually police managed to corral him without incident or should I say without accident. When the police finally got him out of the car and asked him what he thought he was doing? The boy simply replied, “The devil made me do it!” LOL! Just kidding!