Since a few decades after the motor vehicle was invented to a few years from today, the ticket of freedom for teens rested on one thing – the drivers’ license. Now however, it’s drastically different.
The number of teens holding a drivers license has lowered from one half of all teens to one third of all teens from 1998 to today. You may be asking why, because for many of my classmates, and myself, will be vying for that chance in the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles) the moment we turn sixteen. Well, the reasons are far and numerous, some bigger than others.
One of the reasons fewer teens drive at 16 years of age is because of tighter laws in states following really bad car accidents. For example, in Illinois, teenagers applying for a drivers’ license have to have, instead of three months of a learning period, a nine month learning permit period. And then when they do their nine months, they have to have six hours of in-car hands on driving experience. Usually, teens would have to do an hour of driving hands-on, and they could do the other five hours on a drive simulator. A drive simulator is a machine that simulates driving so that students can learn hands-on in a safe environment, away from other real people. As you can see, this reduces accidents while learning, but it also gives less experience to driving because, as always, a simulator cannot replicate the driving experience 100% fully. It can get pretty close, but there is always that gap to 100%. And when the new drivers get on the road, they have a weekend curfew of 11:00 PM, and on weekends, a curfew of 10:00 PM. Of course, this is Illinois, but other states have similar restrictions, if not less harsh.
Another reason that fewer teens get on the road at 16 years of age is because, simply, less teens want to get on the road. More teens today don’t want to drive earlier because they have seen accidents where a teen was harmed, or even killed. This can make teens change their minds, and try to get a drivers license maybe at 17 years of age, or 18 years of age. Many teens also don’t want to get on the road because they are stuck to other activities, like instant messaging on the computer, or checking email, or doing other things that stick them to the house.
Finally, some parents won’t let their children drive before the age of 18, because of safety concerns.
Kelsey Sheffer, 16, says “I’m really disappointed that my mom won’t let me drive before the age of 18, but even if I could drive, I probably wouldn’t, because I would have to drive the family minivan. Now, a 16 year old driving a minivan down the street just wouldn’t be cool.”
So what do you think? Do you still want to get your drivers license the day you are eligible? Or would you rather wait a few years, and rack up as much experience before you actually apply? Make sure you leave a comment below, and I’ll see you next time!