In this editorial, Josh is learning that, the older you get, the more you care about the young members of your family who’ve yet to learn from your mistakes.
I’m no angel when it comes to automotive controversy. I say what’s on my mind, I call people names, and I tell them their opinions are useless. Yet, there’s one conversation where I start to agree with people more and more: Licensed to drive teenagers. It scares me, honestly. Not for my sake, but for theirs. It’s not for a lack of trust in them, more our driving society for never teaching them properly. Each kid has the chance to want to drive well and learn all the necessary tips and tricks to being a good driver.
Although, they’re new to it, so you can’t fault them for many of their mistakes. Remember how weird it felt for us when cars were passing, tailgating and getting to close to us when we first started driving? Yeah, now think about how many newly bad drivers are on the road these days.
I often talk about the performance of vehicles, saying such-and-such car needs more power, better handling, etc. I enjoy a good joy ride, just like any enthusiast. More than that, I love feeling in control of the car. My safety when driving a car as a teenager and young adult was pointless in my head. Nothing would happen. I’m blessed that nothing did.
My niece, a smart and talented 16 year old, will be trading in her permit for a full license by this time next year. And now it’s getting time to start wondering what kind of car she should have as her first, and hopefully best, car. Something fun could do the trick, but it’s not me we’re talking about. Maybe a cool car? Well, no. Safety is the key factor here. Oh and overall space, because she has 4 younger siblings. She is, no doubting, very mature in her mind. But she’s not seen the stupidity of the roads like we have yet.
A recent situation happened that made me even more petrified for my niece when she starts driving everyday.
So I was driving Christmas day to go see a movie with some friends, and a young girl in a BMW 335i sedan nearly drove right into me coming onto the highway. Why? Because she was talking on her cell phone, merging into one lane and drastically changing into mine without looking at all. Luckily, I saw her just in time and, knowing no one was around me, swerved into the fast lane to avoid her. Did I forget to mention that I was a whole three lanes to her left when she entered the highway?
She gave me the dirtiest look, too, upon realizing that she, not me, nearly ruined our Christmases. She also proceeded to speed excessively, talking, then texting, then talking some more, all while driving at around 90 mph on a 60 mph highway. How do I know how fast she was going? Well, I tried to keep up to her to take a picture of her car and license plate for reference, just in case. I was doing well over 80 mph and decided to slow down, because she was going way too quick, having already swerved past cars in her way, and I could see it all going wrong in a hurry (Ed note: we do not condone photographing, texting or talking on the phone while driving here at RawAutos).
How old do I suspect she was? No older than early-20s. This was an adult female driving a 300 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque car that’s capable of getting to 60 in just 4.7 seconds. My car, an M3, is capable of much faster speeds and pace, yet I hardly tap into it. Especially when I’m on a public highway with other cars around me. I’ve grown up, and I’m lucky I was able to.
There’s no doubting that she was driving one of the safest cars she could have crashed into me with. Although at 90, the physics of that accident become something no agency currently tests.
So here we have a fully grown girl who drives with zero attention skills, can I expect any better from a 16 year old? Even though it’s my niece, sadly, I can’t. It’s not that I don’t trust her, it’s just that she’s never seen the driving world like we have yet, like I mentioned earlier.
So what would I pick for a girl who means more to me than the rest of the world? Well, is there any way we can get her a yacht with wheels and a small gas motor? Unfortunately, no. My brother-in-law wants her to have an older Honda Accord. Not a bad car, and it’ll last a while. That’s what he’s looking at: cheap and easy to maintain. He’s had one that went for over 200,000 miles. My niece wants a Nissan Altima, because she thinks it’s stylish and cute. I don’t disagree, but I don’t think it’s the right car for her.
My choice, then, would have to be the Ford Focus 5-door -the four door version won the Gas Saver/Economy Car segment of our 2011 CotY awards. Call me crazy, but it’s perfect. Just big enough to keep her safe in most accidents, not enough power to make her feel daring on the highways, and blind spot killing side-view mirrors. And lest we forget that the interior is well appointed, comfortable, easy to use, and the gas mileage is great. It’s styling is more shocking and in your face than most super cars these days. Its driving abilities are easy, sporty enough, and all-round perfect for a girl who’s yet to understand why boys are so dumb.
More than all of this, I love my niece. I was just 5 months shy of being 10 when she was born. I was becoming an adult when she was growing up. Her safety, security, and her voice on the other end of the phone saying she’s okay is all I ask for.