Magazine topic: 
Life around the world

Behind the wheel

by : 
JohnM

I've been learning to drive since September. So far, I've had 19 lessons and it's going well. But it's not easy. When you're on the road, there are many things to consider – safety is a top priority. In the UK, you can learn to drive at the age of 17 with a provisional licence. So, at 21, I'm already a late starter. But I'm enjoying it! And in my opinion, being able to drive has many advantages.

First of all, driving lets you get from A to B pretty much whenever you want. Having a car gives you a quick and easy way of getting around without the expected waiting of public transport, which is usually much slower than driving. Normally, you have to wait for a bus to arrive...then you need to stop at various places before you finally reach your destination. But a car takes you there directly.

Similarly, driving serves as a very reliable means of transport, whatever the weather. You can get from A to B despite heavy rain and snow; furthermore, you are kept well protected. In contrast, public transport is often delayed or even cancelled due to poor weather conditions. In Scotland, our trains are often cancelled due to snow covering the tracks. So, driving would be a very useful skill for me.

Another benefit of being able to drive is that with a car you're able to take things with you easily. You can use the boot (or 'trunk' in American English) of your car for your shopping, for example, or anything too big or heavy to carry yourself. This makes driving very practical for everyday life.

However, driving also has its drawbacks – and the main one for me is the cost. Having a car is expensive. Learning to drive is expensive. Maintaining a car is expensive. Once you've passed your test, you need to consider so many costs, such as petrol (or 'gas'), car insurance and any necessary repairs. And all these costs add up. But there are some cheaper alternatives, like public transport. While the bus, for example, isn’t as quick as driving, it’s certainly cheaper. You could also cycle, which is not only a great way to stay fit but is environmentally friendly too. Or you could walk. Maybe we depend too much on cars nowadays – even for short journeys. Are we getting lazy?

Even so, I want to be a driver.

Did you know that in the UK the driver’s seat is on the right side of the car? And that we drive on the left side of the road? In most countries, people drive on the right side of the road; in fact, around just 34% of the world population live in left-hand traffic countries. I guess we like to be different.

Driving is fun and a very useful and practical skill to have. But when you’re behind the wheel, you need to be careful. As a driver, you share the road with other drivers and with nearby pedestrians. Therefore, safety, caution and concentration are essential. Remember to always drive sensibly.

Discussion

At what age can you learn to drive in your country? Will you learn to drive as soon as you're allowed to?