Around the Corner: Learning to drive

Kyle Mills

I was always in a hurry when I was younger, whether I was late for school or work or just seeing how fast my car or truck would go.

I was lucky that both my parents taught me to drive, and those lessons started at an early age.

From the very first moment I got behind the wheel I knew I would love driving.

I can’t remember exactly how old I was when I first wrapped my hands around a wheel of automobile, but being raised on a farm meant we started early, and we were riding motorcycles, driving tractors as soon as we could reach the pedals.

It feels like yesterday when my mom told me she didn’t want to drive home and told me to get in the driver’s seat. I was 9.

I must have been smiling ear to ear; the sheer joy of that moment still gives me chills today.

Unlike my brothers whose rap sheets for driving offenses stretches for miles, I think I am a blend of both of my parents’ driving styles.

My mom was the sensible one when it came to driving, obey the laws, and get from point A to point B unscathed.

She loves to drive — and drive in style. She loves cars, and the list of cars she has owned is impressive. Many of her vehicles were souped-up, but she is never one to drive too fast, always obeying the speed limit.

The other day she called me while my nephew was driving her home in her turbo-charged Lincoln SUV after visiting one of my brothers.

Every few seconds she would tell him to slow down or not to hug the yellow line. And all I could hear my nephew say was, “Can I put it in sport mode?”

To this day she has only received one moving violation, and that was for not having a valid proof of insurance.

On the other hand my dad was the Dale Earnhardt of southern Idaho.

Teaching my brothers and me the technique of driving the gravel-covered country roads on the edge of control. If you’re not sideways going around a corner, you’re not doing it right.

He always looked at the speed limit as a suggestion that he never took.  Gas pedal mashed to the floor, his right hand on the wheel and his left relaxing on the window seal as the wind rushed by.

Dad averaged a speeding ticket a year, driving fast up ’til the day he fell ill. I picture him trying to outrun the cops in heaven, just to avoid another ticket, at this very moment.

I had good intentions to instill lessons from both of my parents as I teach my daughter to drive this year. 

I’ve noticed I’m leaning more toward being that cautious old man, making sure she obeys the speed limit at all times. I find myself telling her to be observant and watch other drivers, giving her scenarios of what could happen, and pointing out what other drivers are doing wrong.

It will be hard when she starts driving alone, and worrying about the dangers that lurk out there.

I know I can’t control everything, but I do know one thing: she won’t be driving herself to take the driving test like I did when I was a teenager.

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