Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Hard-earned Lesson

My son Jack called me from someone’s back yard last fall. Normally this would not be very unusual, except for the fact that he was sitting in his father’s truck as he placed the call. Having garnered permission to drive the vehicle, which offered so much more power under the hood than his usual “loser cruiser,” my 17-year-old had lost control. He was simply making a turn, onto dry pavement with no other traffic around, and accelerated more than he ought to have. As the truck’s back end started to fishtail, Jack overcorrected, causing him to jump the curb, mow down a sign, and turn someone’s wooden fence into splinters. He was calling to inform me that no one was hurt, but that he would soon be dead anyway once his father found out. He was also calling to see if I would be the one to call his dad, who was out of town on business at the time.

I hurried out to help my shaken son, checking to ensure that he really was unhurt, then leaving him to deal with the police officer while I spoke with the folks in whose yard he was parked. Actually, they were remarkably understanding, mostly as relieved as I was that no one had been hurt. After leaving them with our insurance information and ensuring that I knew where the truck was heading after it was towed out of the yard, I took Jack home. And yes, I’m the one who called his dad. We all decided it was probably a good thing that he would have a couple more days out of town to cool off.

When Jack showed me the paperwork from the police officer, I was rather surprised to note he had been issued two tickets: one for speeding and another for driving too fast for conditions. I rather thought this was repetitious, since they seemed to describe the same action. We certainly knew that Jack had been at fault, and we knew that it needed to be our insurance company’s responsibility to replace the fence and landscaping, but we also knew we didn’t want two separate tickets to go on his record for one incident. It was time to call a motor offence solicitor.

Were we ever glad we did! The solicitor got one speeding summons dismissed right away. The second one was reduced and will not go on Jack’s record if he manages to drive safely for a year. I’m not concerned that Jack didn’t learn a lesson from all this: he still had to face his father, including his dad’s renewed driving lessons, and he lost the right to use the truck again once it was repaired. In all, it’s a relief that his first accident was one with no injuries, just scary enough to make him more cautious behind the wheel, managing to avoid speeding fines and to respect the power of the vehicle he drives.

By: Elle Wood

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