Maybe It’s Time I Learned to Drive?

Road Trip

This morning, I came across an NYT article that I completely related to: being a non-driving New Yorker during the summer.

As the article details, sure, it’s fine to not drive for most of the year. It’s a pain to have a car, especially in Manhattan. But during the warm months, when all you want to do is escape every weekend to the beach or the mountains, you kind of wish you could drive there yourself:

No surprise, then, that this is the season when some nondrivers begin to wonder whether their aversion to life behind the wheel is enough to outweigh the anxiety it can occasion.

I’m not sure whether I’ve mentioned it here, but I don’t drive. I have a license, but that doesn’t mean anything. When I took driver’s ed (14 years ago!) they just prepared us for the road test: meandering around quiet side streets below 25 miles per hour. That hardly constitutes driving. And since you can’t get licensed in NYC until you’re 17, I got mine, then, a few weeks later, left for college in Boston, where I also didn’t need a car.

As a result, I was never a proficient driver. My spatial awareness was non-existent—I could never tell how wide or long my car was. I was terrified to go fast. And change lanes. And drive at night. And go over bridges and through tunnels. And drive next to trucks or concrete barriers.

I made a few attempts to drive more frequently, while living in Boston after college. But I still sighed with relief upon moving back to NYC, knowing I’d be perfectly fine never driving again.

Until the last few summers. As my beach and weekend trips became more frequent, I wished I could take over, once in a while, to give my sister, Peter or Evan a break from driving me to Long Island, the shore, or whatever the destination. I started wishing I could drive myself to the beach on the weekend—windows down, cheesy music on full blast—instead of schelpping for hours on crowded, noisy trains.

At this point, it’s been about eight years since I’ve driven. But I’m getting to the point where I want to feel comfortable behind the wheel. I even found Citi Driving School, on the Upper West Side, that has lessons specifically for nervous drivers. It focuses on all the things I’m scared of: driving at night, on highways, bridges and tunnels.

I’m planning on taking it sometime. Maybe next year, to be ready for summer 2015.

Are there any other non-drivers/late drivers out there? What made/will make you finally get behind the wheel?

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