Our grandson Landon became a teenager this year.
That was a signal that it was time for him to get behind the wheel of a vehicle and learn to drive.
I don’t recall learning to drive.
On the farm we got behind the wheel of a tractor when we were big enough to step on the brake.
I drove my first truck when my leg wasn’t quite long enough to reach the brake. Attempting to drive that truck to gas it up at our tank, it very slowly, or so it seemed at the time, ran into the supports holding the barrel of gasoline, knocking it to the ground where it stayed for a very long time.
Back then we had driver education in high school. We took classes during the winter, including time in a simulator, then drove during the summer after our freshman year.
Two of us were assigned a driving time together. Our driving instructor had my driving buddy take the vehicle out into the country for 30 minutes.
“Drive back the same way,” he told me at the end of the half hour, like I had been paying attention.
By then, however, I had already driven most of the country roads around Abilene and drove back easily.
Pretty sure the driving instructor fell asleep since he didn’t scold me for not using my blinker a couple of times.
I, my daughter Robin and her oldest son Hayden all learned to drive with a manual transmission. That means operating a clutch and shifting gears.
When Robin was first learning to drive, she had a problem at a country stop sign that was on a hill. Taking her foot off the brake caused the vehicle to roll back.
I put down Sports Illustrated that I was reading (sometimes it’s best to just not look) and gave her instructions.
“Slowly give it a little gas and slowly release the clutch at the same time,” I think is what I said.
What she did was put the pedal to the metal and popped the clutch at the same time.
The tire marks may still be on that road.
Our son Ryan learned to drive at a very young age on the golf course, driving the cart. Hey, he followed the rules better than some golfers! There he also learned when to be quiet.
He received his driver’s license through a driving school in Salina.
The owner lived in Clay Center and would come through Abilene, pick him up, and Ryan got his required driving time by driving back and forth from Abilene and Salina.
During Landon’s visit to Abilene last week he got behind the wheel for the first time.
At first Landon was a little leery about driving, but by golly he was a quick learner.
He looked both ways for other vehicles (not that there would be other vehicles where we were). He figured out how and when to use the blinker and make a turn.
In Kansas the instruction permit starts at age 14.
Kansas does not require driver education but the instruction permit requires someone 21 years of age or older to be a passenger.
A restricted driver license starts at age 15 and does require driver education and a 50-hour affidavit of driving time.
I figure that’s like driving from New York City to Los Angeles and back.
A less restricted license starts at age 16 and does not require education. Driving is restricted to 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. or anytime going to and from work, school activities and religious organizations.
Learning to drive can be a life changer for teenagers, as well as the other person on the road. Before I know it, Landon will be navigating those city freeways in Kansas City where he lives.