Nature vs. nurture in learning to drive

Jessica Hodge

Driving is something we start learning to do at the early ages of 14 or 15, and after years of watching our parents do it, the only difficult part is learning the rules of the road. But the rules are constantly changing and evolving, so learning is an ongoing experience. So how do we learn the guidelines, beside at driver’s education?

Our parents inadvertently taught us their driving habits. We grow up in the backseat watching them yell and make rude gestures to people who don’t go as fast as they want them to or cut them off while changing lanes of the freeway. Does this affect the way we drive? Some people will call it a case of nature vs. nurture, and that it can be individualistic to each person. But I think we learn from both our parents and from the other people we encounter while driving on the road.

There are some people you see driving and they are swerving and being an idiot, and you make note to never be that person on the road. Then there are the people who will always let a car in front of them on a busy road at rush hour and you wish you had as much patience as they do while driving.

I think one of the most ironic parts of being a young driver is that we learn our habits form the older generations. However, the people that have been driving for 40 some years go on auto-pilot when they drive and it really isn’t an effective way for younger kids to learn how to drive.

If we keep watching other people and using the habits they use while driving, we are going to end up just like them: driving without thinking. That can be very dangerous because there is no such thing as a driving situation that is identical to another one.

We need to build our own routines and our own safe ways to drive and always pay attention to the road. Yes, I think parents set a great example, but we have to figure out how to drive by ourselves. Even though laws are always changing, we have to figure out the rules of the road, and we can only do that by staying alert on the road and following the laws.

A lot of people think some driving laws are silly, but they’re set in place for us to follow. Just today, I called the police on a woman with three kids in her car and she had both her hands on her phone and was texting. She was paying no attention to the road. Her kids will grow up and think that texting and driving is acceptable because their mom did it.

Don’t be like that mom. Set a good example for other people and follow the laws while you’re driving; they’re important. 

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