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Holly McCamant: Giving it some gas: Teen slowly learns to drive

In the United States, driving is a big deal.

Unlike other countries, it is possible to get your license when you turn 16. This privilege provides many more opportunities for teenagers; it’s easier to be in sports and have a job. Driving is the first symbol of freedom for kids my age.

I turned 15 at the beginning of June, and took Driver’s Ed in the beginning of August. About six days after I received my blue card, I took my permit test and passed it. As of now, I can drive with my dad in the front seat.

However, even though I passed my permit test, I had no clue how to do the actual driving part. The permit test does test on some important things, but it’s on the handbook, not on how to drive.

The permit test does not test on how to put automatic vehicles into gear, to start the car or where the gas and brake pedals are. Instead, it quizzes takers on the fact that you have to stop at least 20 feet behind a school bus and that driving in Minnesota is a privilege, not a right.

So, when I got my permit test, I was aware that stopping 40 feet behind a school bus was not the correct answer (like I guessed it was), but I was not prepared at all to get behind the wheel.

Thankfully, my dad decided that I would learn to drive his 1995 Ford Ranger on a dirt road that barely has any other vehicles. I’ve gone on long runs on that road without ever seeing a single car.

My dad became especially grateful that he chose that road because the first question I asked when I got in the driver’s seat was which pedal was the gas and which was the brake. He had to instruct me on how to put the car into drive, which I had no clue that I had to do that.

The situation was made worse when it became apparent that I was not a person who was good at holding the steering wheel steady. I kept going left and overcorrecting frequently. We went about 100 meters before my dad informed me that he couldn’t take it anymore.

The next time I stayed somewhat on the right side of the road. After that, I successfully backed up. Eventually, my dad got brave enough to let me drive about 200 meters into town before we got to the “busy” part of Frazee.

The real victorious moment was when I drove all the way through Frazee without having any trouble. Well, I guess there was a part where my dad didn’t tell me where I needed to turn and that didn’t go over well. I made up for it though when I drove back through Frazee again with a very large load in the back.

I haven’t been able to drive since then. However, I am to the point where my dad doesn’t get worried when there is another car coming. Eventually I’m going to have to learn how to drive in Detroit Lakes and then on the highway. That will probably take a while, considering the fact that my dad doesn’t like me to go past 25 mph.

I’ll get there, though. Every teenager has to.

Holly McCamant is a sophomore at Frazee-Vergas High School.

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