What’s the deal with the “Student Driver” stickers on cars? Seriously. I think they’re defeating the entire point of being a student driver. What are the stickers supposed to be doing? Influencing the way people drive around this car? I understand the need for this kind of branding with things like handicapped drivers or a vehicle carrying a volatile combustive substance, but student drivers? Think about it.
It creates a false sense of security for the inexperienced, eager to learn, and presumably young driving trainee. Driver’s Ed is all about learning from experience. It isn’t simply the mechanics of driving a car that we’re trying to teach. You don’t drive a car in a trafficless vacuum. (Though driving a car in the near-vacuum of early Sunday morning or Christmas day is a real treat.) If the drivers around the trainee’s car alter their driving habits, then the student driver will be completely unprepared for their first foray into the wacky world of driving in an unmarked vehicle. In other words, student drivers are living in a fantasy land. A land where, at first, driving is scary and uncertain, but after a little while it becomes clear that everyone just seems so darn nice!
The real world of driving is a dark and depressing place, where humans are reduced to their basest survival instincts. A place where in the blink of a turn signal, a joyride can turn into a desperate fight for survival. In this dank abyss, God-given human urges for compassion, goodwill, and even simple smiling are forcibly replaced with a sense of bitter impatience bordering on psychosis, instantly vehement murderous anger, and the genuine belief that I can text, adjust the radio, eat a Big Mac, and merge into your lane all at the same time. This is the nightmarish landscape we’ve shielded our young people from with these seemingly innocuous stickers, and they will undoubtedly pay the price. Ladies and gentlemen, this is why I believe that the “Student Driver” stickers are counter-productive.
Now that you’re aware of the problem, ask yourself, “What can I do to help?” When you see those tell-tale “Student Driver” stickers, what are you going to do about it? It might be laying on your horn, cutting them off, blocking them out, gesturing maniacally at them as you speed past, or any number of other culturally accepted driving survival skills. Our young drivers need us to stop sheltering them, and start teaching them.
I’m not an awful driver. I try to stay within the speed limit, use my blinker, only steer with my knee when absolutely necessary, and all that other safe stuff. But I simply cannot sit back and let this travel travesty continue to happen. Someone has to take responsibility to shape our moldable young minds. Someone has to shatter this blissful, yet deadly, fantasy that is student driving. Someone has to do something. This is why, in the spirit of truly teaching by experience, I totally tailgate student drivers.
Let’s make our streets and highways a better place. Together.