Driving Miss Narcissist

JANE BOWRON
Last updated 05:00 03/03/2014

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OPINION: A recent University of Otago PhD student's study on travel behaviour has revealed a worldwide trend of young people refusing to drive cars or get their licence.

While it is admirable that some are turning to public transport or their feet - either pedalling or Shanks' Ponying it, the research cites sloth or lack of initiative as one of the main reasons for not driving.

Young people relied on their friends or good old mum and dad to ferry them round their traps, which to my mind is pretty lame.

One person was asked what they would do if they got a job which necessitated the use of a car, and their reply was classic Generation Narcissist, saying it would have to be at the weekend so their parents could chauffeur them.

I suspect this reliance on parental chauffeuring was set in stone when freaked out mum and dad, paranoid their children were going be kidnapped or preyed upon by paedophiles, went out of their way to personally deliver their children to the doors of their chosen place of learning.

That transported generation have missed out on precious dawdles, the joy of jumping in puddles or being the first to break the ice on them, winding up fenced-in dogs while trailing a stick along the fence line, and meeting nice old ladies who'd give you a sweetie at the letterbox.

Another reason given for not bothering to drive or get a licence is the expense of petrol, registration, WOFs and ticketing.

Fair enough, cars come with a lot of bureaucratic, revenue-gathering baggage and if you're getting paid the minimum wage every car journey would be a luxury.

Then there are those laudable souls who have made a conscious decision not to contribute to the carbon monoxide poisoning of the planet and want to do their bit by becoming automobile abstinent.

Other young people said they were fearful of the immense power of cars and didn't want to be responsible for possibly maiming or killing others.

It is true that cars now have a ridiculous amount of horsepower, most of which can never be unleashed in a speed camera-patrolled world.

Rationale asks what is the point of having a high-speed stallion if he can only trot and canter, but never let rip into a glorious gallop?

It's a generation thing, isn't it?

Back in the day one counted the days down till you could sit your licence, get behind the wheel of the family humiliation while saving up for your own first car.

In an era of strict parenting, where mixed flatting was considered debauched and motorbikes were symbols of rebellion, strangely the car was allowed.

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That was silly because you could get into a lot more trouble in a car than you could on a motorbike.

We had sex or heavy, everything but petting, sessions in the car's back seat.

I seem to remember rushing home in a dishevelled state late one night after the boyfriend had failed to meet the curfew to find both parents up and indignant, just waiting to listen to my excuses.

I had them ready but they fell on deaf ears.

Instead, their stern gaze focused on my pencil-lined pantyhose, which I realised to my horror had been put on back-to-front in the dark.

Who needs a car to mate in when you've got social networks and smartphones, which in this survey are also to blame for low unlicenced teens?

Impose a ban on teenage sex under the parental roof, halt the taxi service, take away the smartphones and they'd get their licences as quick as you could say mixed flatting.

- Fairfax Media

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