Eighteen

Eighteen

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When I walked into the DMV, I didn’t expect to get my permit.

The worker explained how the test would work: the questions would cycle through twice, skip any questions you weren’t sure of, save them until the end.

I walked into the testing room. I only need eighteen, I thought, sitting down. Only eighteen.

I hit start. I passed.

I was now legally allowed to drive a motor vehicle with a licensed driver beside me. Highways, intersections, on-ramps, yield signs—all I could recognize and navigate… in theory.

I had only studied the night before in a frantic, panicked rush. I was still reviewing the speeding penalties when I had been called to the desk.

Everyone warns against cramming—I valiantly ignored them, but I still had a piece of paper declaring it safe for me to sit behind the wheel of a SUV.

All students go to auto school, take the class, passes the written exam. My class reviewed for the written test for twenty minutes before we took it. I was one point off from a perfect score.

The first time I drove, my mother and I went around a parking lot at an intimidating five miles-per-hour.

did get better. I was a fairly decent driver (all things considered) when I went for the driving portions of Hoffman’s.

I didn’t think much of the newer drivers as my lessons progressed. They stopped too quickly, turned tighter than they needed to, but they were fine.

I still remember the flash of fear when one driver said,

“I’ve never driven before.”

“Ever?”

“Once, but my mother made me stop the car and she drove the rest of the way.”

That turned out to be months ago.

“Turn left.”

“What do you mean?”

We were turning onto a main road, with other cars.

I held onto the bar above my head, eyes shut as we shuddered down the street. I realized she must have taken the same test as I had… She had scored at least an eighteen.

The whole permit-system is a joke. It’s good to learn the rules of the road, but it has zero relevance in actual driving experience. Two people could both have their permit, eighteen questions under their belt, and one of them could try and drive a car with both feet on the pedals.

It goes to show that even if permits and licenses are legally obtained, you never know who can drive or not. Most drivers can’t drive.