How moving to Geraldton made me stop driving like an idiot

I remember the first SS V8 Ute I brought home. Selling cars in Perth had very few perks, but thrashing new cars was one benefit. 

I was in my early 20's, and my esteem among my peers always went up a notch when I had a new vehicle to show off. 

I recall clearly blowing up an engine in a turbo charged Lancer on the Kwinana Fwy, teaching (showing off to) my friends how to do a proper hand brake turn, and destroying tyres on cheap trade ins. 

Many of my friends also had high powered cars, and we egged each other on. 

I lost my licence for a few months at one point due to an accumulation of demerit points. I deserved it. 

But I would still speed when I could get away with it. 

Losing those friends

In 2006 I moved to Geraldton. I got married. I stopped seeing my Perth friends. 

One day I realised I wasn't speeding any more. I couldn't remember the last time I had done a handbrake turn or a burn out. 

I wondered what had changed. I wondered who that idiot was who used to show off behind the wheel. He felt like a stranger.

But nothing sudden had changed, I just was no longer around people who thought hooning was cool, and I had grown to realise how dumb it truly was. 


Is peer pressure really that powerful?

The need to belong, be approved of, and get attention, are real human needs. Many people will do whatever it takes to get those needs met.

If the only people willing to offer young men acceptance are other young men with undeveloped prefrontal cortexes who lack sound reasoning skills, it's easy to see how the "hoon" culture perpetuates.

As I grow older I realise how important who I surround myself with is. It's not a "holier than thou" thing. It's just a recognition of my own frailty and need for positive influences in my life. 

If I could do it over, I'm sad to say that one change I would make would be to hang around with a different set of friends.

If you're a young person reading this, I'd advise that you choose your friends carefully.