What happened to the gore of yesteryear’s driver’s ed?

Allergy season – and tissue-eating dogs – in full swing

Today’s teens have it made. Don’t believe me? Check out driver’s
education. I’m telling you, the whole thing has changed from back
in the day. Why, when I went to driver’s ed, we had to actually
attend a class.
Today’s teens have it made. Don’t believe me? Check out driver’s education. I’m telling you, the whole thing has changed from back in the day. Why, when I went to driver’s ed, we had to actually attend a class.

Today’s teens? They go to class on the Internet. They attend at their own pace. They don’t have to get up at 7 a.m. in the middle of their summer vacation to go to some driving school on the other side of town. Nope. They can roll out of bed, watch “Mythbusters,” eat all the leftovers from last night’s dinner and then decide to do a couple of driver’s ed sessions.

I’m telling you, teens have got it made.

If their ability to take the class at their own pace doesn’t convince you, consider the class itself. When I went to driver’s ed, we sat for hours in a makeshift classroom in an industrial park while a retired police officer scared the holy crud out of us by telling us horror stories about awful car accidents and stupid teenagers whose lives were ruined because they caused a fatal accident and thus had to spend the rest of their lives in prison for the crime of driving while stupid.

Oh, and also? Nobody ever found the driver’s missing arm. The lectures always ended with the instructor bellowing, “Do you know how difficult prison is when you are missing an arm?” Um, no. But thanks for asking.

Of course some of my friends had it worse. They had to attend driver’s ed as an elective at school. It was always taught by the teacher at the high school who had drawn the short stick (or really ticked off the principal) and was now stuck in a car with giggling teenagers, praying that his life insurance policy was paid up.

What we didn’t do was sit on our nice cushy chairs in the den answering questions like “who invented windshield wipers in 1905?” Yeah, that’s a real question my teenager had to answer. I’m sure that knowing the answer to that will keep him safe on the road.

And let’s not even discuss the videos.

Seriously, in my day we spent hours watching movies intended to scare the bejeebers out of us. These movies had actual real footage of real accidents. On day one of driver’s ed, the burly old guy lecturing us let us out for the lunch break with the warning, “don’t eat pizza.” Turns out the film he ran right after the break was “Signal 30,” a classic about a train and a motorcycle.

Guess who didn’t win that race? And guess who ate pizza before seeing it? Yes. Trust me when I tell you it was a very long time before I could even look at pepperoni again, let alone drive over railroad tracks without having a panic attack.

And let’s not forget the all-time driver’s ed pinnacle of teen driving terror, “Wheels of Tragedy.” Who can forget it? Once you have seen this film it is literally burned into your retinas. Ugh. So many limbs. So much gore. So much fear about driving. People fainted during those films. People ran from the classroom and threw up after watching those films.

And what, you may ask, do teens watch today? Cartoons. Yes. Cartoons. And insurance commercials.

At the end of some of the sections Junior completes, there is a little cartoon man dressed in a hard hat and an orange safety vest waving a yield sign – an indication that Junior needs to watch a DMV sanctioned film. Then he watches a little movie that isn’t scary at all. At the end of some warning about not stopping on train tracks, there isn’t a scene where the train barrels down and hits the guy on the motorcycle. Nope. In fact, the film was so cheery I kind of expected the guy who was the president in “24” to come on and tell Junior that he was in “good hands with Allstate.”

Seriously? How the heck are teens supposed to be scarred for life if they are watching that?

I’m telling you, teens today have it made. Of course, Junior is only 1/3 of the way through his driver’s ed, so I hold out hope that maybe, just maybe, they are saving “Red Asphalt” for the end of the course.

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