Iíve heard some interesting conversations over lunch tables these days. Of course, everything is always interesting when you gather large groups of young people together, but the one that made me stop and think dealt with driving.
Teens and Driving
Iím not sure I know a single teen who isnít interested in driving themselves around. Even if they arenít rushing out to get a license right away, they are interested in learning how to drive so that they can have what every teenager wants Ė freedom. I realize this plays out a bit differently in cities that have great public transportation, but for the rest of us, having a license to drive means we are no longer dependent on anyone to take us anywhere, although we might still be dependent on Mom and Dad to hand over the car keys.
The Energy Crisis
So, the first half of this particular discussion was the inalienable right for teens to drive. Of course there was discussion about the rumors regarding rising minimum ages for drivers licenses and driving school requirements, but it seemed to boil down to everyone desperately wanting to fire up a car and just drive.
Until someone asked if that was really the right thing to do, that is.
Teens are great about taking up causes. Young people are passionate and like to help out those we believe in. This table of friends I just happened to be listening to, okay eavesdropping on, are very ďgreen.Ē They want the world to be a better place, they want to use alternative energy, and they certainly donít want to cause additional pollution.
So in the way that friends do, one asked the others point blank: whatís more important Ė driving or helping the environment?
The Debate on Driving
It was interesting to see how it played out after that. Realize that in this area, public transportation isnít a great option, so a car is really the only way to go more than a few miles at a time.
Some decided they would go ahead and start driving, but drive only when they needed to Ė never just because they can.
Others decided they would ask for a smart car of some kind that used less energy and therefore wouldnít be so harmful. Iím not sure if this is a real plan since their parents might not be willing to buy them a new car when the family minivan will do.
Still others couldnít seem to decide. They wondered how much energy their one little car would really take and justified driving around town as better than all the other cars who sit in traffic every day.
But can you justify something like that? Is the three mile drive you make to school less pollution-worthy than three miles on the interstate somewhere?
What if teens didnít start to drive? What sort of impact would it really make? Would it be worth sacrificing freedom?