Unwilling to Take the Wheel

Hope Clark, Student Life/ Design Editor

Sixteenth birthdays once meant driver’s licenses and freedom. Now however, more teens wait until they are older to get their license. For some teens, driving is too stressful, while for others it costs too much and consumes too much time.

Many teens fear the responsibilities of the road. When parents tell stories meant to instill respect for the road in their children, they also instill terror. Young and inexperienced drivers feel pressured by demands of their parents and by other drivers on the road. With parents barking out instructions from the passenger side, many teens feel overwhelmed. Once tailgaters and road raging drivers are added into the equation, the joys of driving do not always make up for the stress it causes. Some teens delay getting their driver’s licenses until they are older and more capable of handling the obligations that accompany driving.

Some teens cannot afford to get their license when they turn 16. Many teens have to pay for their own driver’s education as well as their own car, insurance, gas and all the other expenses that come with driving. Teens often need a job to pay for all of this, but can’t get one until they have a way to get there. This creates a situation where it’s impossible for these teens without a ride to have a job until they have saved enough allowance and birthday money. The same goes for teens who cannot get a job because they have family obligations, such as staying home to watch other siblings while their parents are at work. The amount of time it takes teenagers to accumulate enough money to cover the price of their education, car, insurance and gas causes many to wait past their sixteenth birthday for their license. Cost deters teens from pursuing their freedom and pursuing a driver’s license.

Over the past few years, the changes in rules and requirements for young drivers have caused them to wait until they are 18 and no longer have to abide by them. Teens feel that they do not have the time for all of the driver’s ed classes and for driving practice on top of schoolwork, extracurricular activities and family obligations. By waiting until they turn 18, drivers do not have to trouble themselves with all the additional training that these laws require. Many people blame the graduated license program – meant to ensure safer and more knowledgeable drivers – for the rising number of completely inexperienced drivers who only have to pass the test when they are ready to get their licenses.  In this system, it’s a lot less work for teens to just wait until they are 18 to get their licenses.

The factors of fear, price and work associated with getting a driver’s license have caused a decline in interest among teens. With other ways of getting from place to place, little time to spare, rising gas prices and the stress of the road, teens no longer see driver’s licenses as a symbol of freedom. If teens want to drive, they will need to show more responsibility, hard work and dedication than any generation before them.