Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Breaking the Law: New Drivers and Order in this Modern World

There are some main rules that parents are trying to bond over at our high school.  The biggest one is the limitations of the graduated license.  In California, once you get your license, you are not permitted to drive around like a limo service.  In other words, you cannot drive your friends around until you have had your license for a full year.

This law appears to be loosely followed and loosely interpreted.  Even going to snopes or calling the DMV will not get you a definitive answer as to what the penalty really is for giving your friend a ride home from cross country practice.  Also, kids that have been pulled over for other offenses, but have a friend in the car while they are still in their probationary period, are not ticketed or even warned about breaking the passenger law.

Some parents, have no problem with breaking this rule.  They figure it's ok, and turn a blind eye, or even admit they do not follow this rule.  Some parents bring out the pitch forks and the torches if they catch their teen giving a ride to a friend or sibling.  Most of my friends are fairly flexible.  They assess the situation, then make a decision based on the circumstances.

I told John, that in the good old United States, we as citizens don't get to choose which laws we think are worthwhile.  Hey, murder one?  Not really a good idea, that's a good law.  Making a U turn where it's marked no U turn, but we are in a hurry, maybe we can skip that law.  I am a law abider--probably to a fault.  I stand in line.  I wait my turn.  I wait to merge and stay in traffic while the speedy drivers get in the other lane, pass me and merge last minute.

John is getting ready to take his exam for his official driver's license.  We are driving around town and practicing.  I am a running dialog of driving advice and so is my husband.  Now all three of us critique whomever is driving and truly are back seat drivers constantly.  This is not really fun, but it is probably part of the process.

John was driving down a four lane city street.  A car made a left hand turn into traffic, and was going to gauge his speed so that he merged in behind John.  I recognized this move.  John did not.  He hit the brakes, came to an abrupt stop, the other driver started to merge in front, but John kept going and had to swerve to avoid a collision.

John was griping up and down about how that was illegal and how could that guy just drive like that.  I had to explain that all drivers pretty much drive like that.  He almost quoted me the page number in the DMV guide that would put that driver in jail.

So, once again, here is a law that no one follows.  No one thinks it's a big deal to break it.  We all do it. We probably wouldn't even get a ticket for it.  How do you explain a world like this to a teenager?  How do you explain it to yourself?  How many of us who have been driving for a gazillion years even know what the current laws of driving really are?

It's kind of interesting and makes me wonder about our laws, written and unwritten.  It also makes me wonder about the whole other set of laws that seem to apply to some people, and not at all to others.  Wow, what a thing to think about.  Welcome to the world.

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