Advice From the Trenches

Menace to Society: Should he take his daughter’s keys away?

Dear C and Dr. B;

I am still a little in PTSD mode, and am not sure what the best path is from here. My 16-year-old daughter got her drivers license two months ago and a she already has had two accidents. The first was a minor scratch, but she was at fault and in light of the second accident, a serious crash where she was again at fault, I see it was just a worse version of the first one. She is 16 and shows all the judgement, maturity and impulsiveness of an adolescent. She is impatient, frustrates easily, feels her needs are the most important thing in the picture at any one time and that the world in some way will open up for her. These are not traits you want behind the wheel. In both accidents, her view was impaired and instead of stopping, waiting, re-assessing, she just pulled out into traffic. It is by sheer luck that she didn’t die or injure someone in the second accident while totaling the car. What do I do now? I arranged my work schedule around her driving herself to school. Her judgment is so bad I live in fear she will die if I let her drive again. She eventually has to drive and if I don’t let her I am just kicking her death by car down the line as she won’t learn the necessary skills?

Shaky Steve

Dr. B says: Until she shows better judgement and patience she can not be allowed to drive alone. There are crash prevention classes you can sign her up for, but it seems she needs at least another two years of driving experience with an adult in the car. The 18-year-old brain is less impulsive than the 16-year-old brain, so hopefully she will  learn some caution by then. And she can always ride a bike.  

Good luck

C says: I’m not gonna be so nice about this, Steve, because I had two friends killed by a teen like your daughter. Take her license away, NOW. Cut it up or burn it. The fact that you, her parents, are even allowing her the option of driving herself to school after all this is a sign that your daughter has been allowed to make too many of her own decisions up to now. 

We had a reader write in about how mean it was to force people who have psychological problems, or physical challenges, to wear COVID protective masks, and how wrong it was to ask them to comply. The answer we gave that guy is the same one I will give to you now: This is not a matter of personal opinion. This is a matter of public safety. Your daughter has the right to accommodate her needs as long as she does not endanger, or otherwise interfere with the people around her. She has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that she is a danger to both herself and to others. Take the bloody car away before you are visiting her in jail, in the hospital, or in the morgue.

Your daughter will whine, manipulate, and declare her hatred for you in no uncertain terms. Too freakin’ bad. If she had the maturity to consider others, follow the rules, and respect the laws of physics, she could make her own decisions. Obviously, she cannot.

Yes, maybe your daughter eventually needs to learn how to drive, but I know at least 5 adults who had the intelligence to realize they were too nervous or distracted to drive safely, and they found ride alternatives. None of them have killed or injured themselves or others in the 40 odd years I have known them. Not everyone is cut out to drive. That’s why we have public transportation.

If you want your daughter to learn how to drive safely, turn her over to a professional instructor who will not be affected in the slightest by her whining, her explanations or her threats. I’m guessing you guys are suckers for the whole routine.

If you let this situation continue, you are a fool. If your wife argues with you, tell her to back off. This is not her world or your daughter’s world. We all live here, and we don’t want people like your daughter on our roads.

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