Teens Are Now Waiting Longer to Drive

Alondra Rivera, Staff Writer

More teens  are waiting longer to get their licenses now than ever before. Driving is a huge responsibility and some teens may not be up for it because when someone gets behind the wheel, they need to be attentive and pay attention to their surroundings to ensure the safety of themselves and others.

Coach Mo, the drivers ed teacher  at Menchville, said that students may be waiting longer because, “they are intimidated by the road and the overwhelmingness of controlling their environment. Two, they have older siblings and friends that just take them everywhere.” Waiting to drive is okay, “if it’s fear cause that’s normal, and a lot of them might grow up and go to the city, get jobs and never rely or need to drive. But, i think they should be prepared in case they had to.” Back then it used to be, “a right of passage, as soon as you turn 16 or 17 you’re driving, that’s what everyone wanted, but we didn’t have Ubers.” Things change as technology advances and so do people.

 Many teens also find the process of getting a license too tedious so they might wait until they are older than 18, to start it. Some teens may fail the permit test once or twice which pushes back the license time. Location also has something to do with this, the South experiencing the greatest decrease in the number of high school seniors getting their license, which dropped from 85.3 percent in 1996 to 71.5 percent in 2015.

Some teens may just be scared to drive which is why they push it off for so long. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States. But according to statistics, those who wait until they are 18 are “worse” drivers and are more likely to fail their driving tests. Those who waited until they’re 18 will get, on average, 3 times more citations than those who got their license or began driving at 16.  

“I have lot going school wise right now but I plan to hopefully get my permit during the summer when I have more time,” said Senior Lisette Munoz. Another senior, Cassandra White said, “It’s not something I am focused on doing just yet. I am more focused on my grades and work, so i don’t feel it is something I necessarily need to have.” The process of getting a license takes time, “but they make you go through a lot to make sure that everyone is safe.” Sophomore Alma Lopez, who turned 16 a couple months ago, plans on getting her permit, “the year or year before I graduate so that I can know how to drive when I go off to college.” 

Teens now a days may not find it as necessary as they did in the past to get it right away. But many still do because they want that sense of freedom and independence that comes from not having to rely on others all the time for a ride somewhere.

To get a license, in Virginia, you need to take behind the wheel which was once offered in schools as a part of the curriculum but is no longer because of the expenses of hiring a teacher and having a car readily available. Now teens have to go to private companies, which can be expensive and some may not be able to afford it and it’s time consuming. Some teens may also not be able to afford a car which discourages them from starting the process. Getting a license is not as much as a priority as it was in the past.