By Jordan W. Charness

Poor Peter. “Teenagerhood” is never an easy thing for a parent to understand. One minute, your daughter is a sweet, loving, attentive, obedient child, and the very next she’s the demon child run amuck! To add to the confusion, sometimes both of those conditions happen in the very same instant. Conversations that start with “Daddy I love you” can suddenly end up with “Tell me I’m adopted!!” Nonetheless daddies love their daughters and will do anything for them. Of course, just when daddies think they’re starting to figure out just what exactly teenage daughterhood is all about, the magical age of 16 arrives and the family car enters into the picture.

Peter was no exception. His daughter Lindsay is a truly wonderful child. Well, most of the time. She is always responsible and will probably make an excellent driver if only they both live long enough for her to get her driver’s license. What started out as a wonderful way for Peter and Lindsay to bond almost turned into the last day of their lives.

The Quebec government, in its wisdom, has decided along with a lot of other Provinces and States, that a fine way for a young driver to learn how to drive is for him or her to spend a twelve-month apprenticeship driving with a licensed driver. In fact, a learner’s permit in Quebec, only allows the young driver to be behind the wheel when accompanied by a person who has at least two years’ driving experience and a valid driver’s license.

The learner’s permit is valid for 18 months and is obtained after successfully passing a vision test and a 64-question theoretical exam. The passing grade is 75 percent on each part of the three-part exam. Wannabe drivers under the age of 18 also require a letter from a parent granting consent to his or her obtaining the learner’s permit.

Once these formalities have been successfully completed the new learner must seek out brave souls to accompany him or her on motorized excursions. Here’s where the daddy\daughter bonding part comes into effect. Lindsay had just obtained her learner’s permit and Peter thought it would be a wonderful idea if they could spend time together while he taught her how to drive.

In addition to saving a few bucks on a driver school, Peter thought it would be a great idea if Lindsay would spend 12 months as an apprentice driver. He could teach her.

Sometimes, Peter is not very bright. Taking driving lessons from a registered and licensed driving school reduces the apprentice time from 12 to 8 months. At that point a practical exam must be passed successfully before the learner can move up to a probationary driver’s license. Without the approved course the learner must wait 12 months before taking the practical exam.

As it turned out, Lindsay was pretty good at driving. After the first few weeks of Peter’s patient explanations, and Lindsay’s slightly impatient “I know all that already Dad” responses, Peter became pretty comfortable whenever Lindsay took the wheel of a car.

Unfortunately, being too comfortable can be dangerous. The weather was just about perfect. It was sunny and warm, yet not so bright that it would cause a glare in Lindsay’s eyes as she drove Peter home from the supermarket. Peter actually loved to do the grocery shopping. He would read each circular to find the best bargains, and didn’t mind driving to five different stores in order to save 10 cents. Lindsay loved to accompany him on these trips as she got to put in a lot of driving hours spending dollars on gas and saving pennies on groceries.

After a record-breaking six-store shopping spree Lindsay was driving home and Peter pulled out his cell phone to call his wife to find out whether he had forgotten to buy anything that she needed. While Peter was bragging to his wife about all the money that he had saved by driving all-around town, he failed to pay attention to the road.

Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye he noticed that Lindsay was about to turn left despite the oncoming traffic. He had just enough time to yank the steering wheel with his left hand and twist it to the right. This last ditch manoeuvre just barely saved them from being rammed by a car, a truck and a minivan, all of whom had the right-of-way and would have been cut off by Lindsay’s left-hand turn.

In all the commotion the cell phone went flying from Peter’s hand and out the window where it smashed onto the pavement. Peter’s wife thought they had been in an accident when the phone disconnected with a crash. Although no one was hurt, Peter was visibly shaken as he ordered Lindsay to pull over. For some reason she had entirely failed to notice that there was oncoming traffic preventing her from turning left.

They both recognized how lucky they were at surviving this close call but Lindsay placed the blame squarely where it belonged. “Dad! Don’t you know that it’s dangerous to be talking on your cell phone while I’m driving??”

This article is of a general nature and may not be applicable in all situations and jurisdictions. If you have a legal problem or need legal advice please consult a lawyer.

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