In Oregon, you can get your driver’s permit at 15 and your license at 16. I grew up in Pennsylvania and we couldn’t get our permit a day before our 16th birthday short of a clerical error. I was SO JEALOUS when my friend got hers a week early, on MY 16th birthday, due to one of those very errors!. But my 16-year-old issues are not the point so I’ll get back on track.

Letting my son get his permit at 15 made me nervous — he is very responsible but seems so young. Seriously? I want him behind the wheel of my car? (I LOVE my car!) A friend who has an older child and has already been through this rite of passage re-framed the situation and helped me see the wisdom in Oregon’s law. If you let your child get their permit at 15, they HAVE to practice with you or another licensed driver for an entire year before heading out on their own. Make them wait and they only have to do 6 months I think.

So okay, that makes sense, and as I already said, my son has proven himself to be responsible so why punish him for my own misgivings. He got his permit in September and I started calling about driver’s ed classes.

2 weeks ago he told me that they are teaching him to hold the steering wheel at 4 & 8 o’clock, that it is safer and you have more control. Huh? I was taught and have been holding my hands at 11 & 2 for 25 years. Ok, whatever, I pretty much dismissed it after I tried it once and it felt weird.

My way was working so why change what works, right? I found out why today…

Today I picked up my son and he got in the car and said, “You know how you told people at dinner last night that you wanted me in driver’s ed so they would show me movies to scare me and make me a safer driver?”  (Now I’m getting my money’s worth!)  “Yes,” I replied.  “See some movies today?”

“No, a trauma nurse talked to us for an hour and a half about all the things that she’s seen.  She introduced herself by saying, “I’ve seen a lot of kids your age die.  My name is… ”  So I got to hear some gruesome stories that make me want to stay home and out of a car or not crossing the street.  But here is the one that made me decide to blog today:

The nurse told the class that when an air-bag deploys, it comes out at 200 mph and if you have your hands at 10 & 2, you could kill yourself with your own fists! Well there were no air bags when I learned to drive so it wasn’t an issue.  It is today so they are training kids to keep their hands below where the air bag deploys so it won’t grab their arms & hands.  Hey 20/20 — have you covered this for the rest of us?  Did I miss it?

And of course I take these little tidbits and often translate them to business. Even if you have been doing something – a job, a technique, etc – for a long time, keep looking at what is going on around you.  Business practices may be changing, job skills people expect you to have may shift, heck, Photoshop™ changes every year or so giving us new tools to use.  What worked in art licensing 10 years ago won’t work today.

If you assume the way you were taught something will always be the best way, take the lesson of airbags and think again. Do a quick check to see if you are working in safe & efficient ways. Oh yeah, start driving with your hands at 4 & 8 — your future could depend on it!

~ Tara