When I was 13 I started drivers ed. Yes, 13. I did not get to drive in drivers ed until I turned 14, but I got to attend class when I was still 13. Most people would have been thrilled at the opportunity I was to be given. I was going to get a school license. A license that Iowa has that allows rural kids to drive to school and back by themselves before they turn 16. At 14 in fact, although the rules have changed since I was 14, that was 19 years ago. The thrill was lost on me. I was terrified of driving. When I finally sat down in the drivers seat of that red drivers ed car with the three Rs on the side for Randy Rogers (I forget his middle name), my hands shook as I turned the key. I had never even turned the car on before. Mr. Rogers realized how scared I was and had me drive the car around the barren parking lot of the camp ground of the Coralville Dam, near Iowa City, Iowa. I drove like a stereotypical old lady on the gravel roads of the farm lands, slow and swervy. He did eventually let me out onto the road that goes back into Iowa City, but he did not make me drive very long in town. I got a lot better and I even learned to drive a stick shift and learn to love it, but I have always taken the responsibility of driving very seriously. I am a careful driver and I try to drive close to the speed limit as much as possible. I recognize the power of the beast in which I sit.
Why write about driving when I am taking the Metro or walking everywhere right now? Well, my supervisor was in a serious accident on Thursday night and could have died. We went through our day on Friday not knowing anything was wrong, because she does not come in to work on Fridays, but when we got there today we found out. She had to have her spleen removed and is still in the hospital. She may be out of the office for a week or two.
The power of automobiles is so immense. In the winter I still get so scared. I hate driving, even in a heavy downpour of rain. I like to be in control and when I am in a car, I do not feel like I am in control, even if I am driving.
At my internship we are researching traumatic brain injury, and the leading cause of civilian tbi is car accidents. Car accidents leave so many people with disabilities and I don't think that people take the privilege of driving seriously enough. I will honestly take a crowded Metro over driving, any day.