Judge Teen Drivers on Performance!

By Dr. Robert Wallace

February 5, 2020 5 min read

DR. WALLACE: My best girlfriend won the safe driving award given to the teen who received the highest grade on both the written and the behind-the-wheel driving tests. She's a wonderful driver and a wonderful person. I would be much safer riding with her than riding with a whole lot of adults I know. We girls like to laugh and have fun, as most teens do, but once we are in a motor vehicle, it's all business. We are very, very serious about driving safely and following the rules of the road. I also received very high marks on these tests, but my friend edged me out for the award!

I'm tired of adults, including you, putting all teen drivers in the suspect category. Drivers should be judged on performance, not age. — One Very Safe Teen Driver, Troy, Michigan

SAFE TEEN DRIVER: Teens score the highest of all age groups on dexterity, hand-eye coordination and vision tests, but what they lack, at times, is good judgment — especially when you put a lot of high-spirited teens in one car. I called this youthful exuberance. Add this to the lack of driving experience, and you have a category of high-risk drivers.

I am well aware that many teens are conscientious and safe drivers, but unfortunately, they are in the minority. I trust you and your girlfriend are quite high on the safety scale, but not everyone your age is as diligent and dedicated to safety as you two girls are. Overall, I do agree with you; drivers should be judged on performance, not age. Keep up the good work, and do your best to encourage others of your generation to take driving as seriously as you do.


DR. WALLACE: I have a part-time job, but I still maintain excellent grades. Because of my studies and my job, I don't have a lot of free time, which stresses me out sometimes.

My grandmother, who lives with us, tells me that I don't know what stress is because I'm too young to be stressed.

I know what stress is, and at times, I definitely feel stressed out. I imagine that I would be less stressed if I quit my job, but I desperately need the money, so I continue to juggle school and work in my busy life.

Please tell my grandmother that teens can and do become victims of stress, even though we are young. It can affect almost anyone! — Stressed Out Granddaughter, Toledo, Ohio

STRESSED OUT: No one, including teens, is immune from stress, but some teens suffer more from it than others do.

I do hear much more often about stress from teen girls than I do from teen boys. From what I've gathered through reading hundreds of letters on this subject, girls tend to keep their anxieties bottled up inside, which can cause headaches, nervousness, sleeplessness and stomach problems. Boys, on the other hand, share that they are more likely to work off stress through their behavior, sometimes, unfortunately, by becoming aggressive or violent. The good news is most boys tell me they lift weights or go for a run when they feel stress. It appears their first instinct is to find a physical outlet.

Some of the main sources of stress for teens of both genders are: parents with unreasonably high scholastic expectations, too little recognition from other teens, excessive job demands and too much (or too little!) leisure time.

You appear to be a wonderful granddaughter who is an excellent student while working part time. That's quite a noble feat. To your grandmother, I would say, "When your granddaughter says she's stressed, take her at her word, and do what you can to make her feel more at ease."

Dr. Robert Wallace welcomes questions from readers. Although he is unable to reply to all of them individually, he will answer as many as possible in this column. Email him at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Robert Wallace and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.

Photo credit: PublicDomainPictures at Pixabay

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