Don’t be a passenger your whole life

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Why driving is a life-long skill worth having

By Elliot Chan, Opinions Editor
Formerly published by The Other Press. March 16, 2015

Younger generations are no longer putting car ownership as a top priority, and because of that the attitude towards learning to drive or earning a driver’s licence is left idling. Many have even accepted that they will never own a vehicle and that public transit is just something that will be a part of their lives forever. It’s true that owning a car is a big responsibility and learning to drive is a hassle, but while the economy may place a roadblock in our plans, we cannot be ignorant towards a fundamental skill of urban society.

Being able to drive is more than simply having an alternative to walking or taking the bus, being able to drive is being fluent in the rules of the road and having a lifeline for travelling. If you don’t know how to drive you will always be a passenger—always. It doesn’t matter if you are taking a taxi, bus, or if your friends are chauffeuring you around, you are always governed by someone’s driving habits and navigation skills. In a way, you are someone’s luggage.

Having the skills to drive gives you the freedom to travel. If you decide you want to—in a split second—rent a car and visit another city, province, or country, you can. The ability to drive will take you further in life.

You become a more valuable, respectable, and dependable person when you know how to drive. Pedestrians who don’t know the difference between a turn signal lever and a windshield wiper controller have little sympathy toward drivers and behave as though they own the roads. They are blind to what drivers have to deal with on a busy street and seldom give them a benefit of the doubt.

People who have never driven also have weaker navigational skills and direction-giving abilities. Often they will tell the driver to take a turn too late or have no idea where they are because they are not travelling along a bus route. Driving enables people to understand the layout of a city better. Getting lost is not a big deal when you are in a car, unlike if you take the wrong bus.

Not everybody needs a car. In fact, if you have spent time pondering life in rush hour traffic, you would believe that fewer people should actually drive. But that does not change the fact that cars are one of the most valuable technologies of the past century. Traffic is the pulse of a city and we need to help it beat. Knowing how to drive is the ability to see how a city functions. It’s a language we should all understand.

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