Teens waiting to get drivers' licenses, prefer public transport
Teens are waiting longer to get their drivers' licenses, according to a new study. They prefer walkable cities and good public transportation to the hassle and cost of maintaining a car.
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Once he got his permit, he started driving with his parents. Although driving became easier, he didn’t particularly enjoy it. The original permit expired before he passed the driving test, and a new permit was issued. The day after his 18th birthday, Harry passed the behind-the-wheel driver’s test and got his license.Skip to next paragraph
Susan Sachs Lipman is the author of "Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World," which grew out of her award-winning blog, Slow Family Online. She is the social media director for the Children & Nature Network. Susan and her family enjoy gardening, hiking, soap crafting and food canning.
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“I had been getting rides (to school) with my dad, and there were always enough people driving places, that I didn’t really need a license,” Harry said. “The only reason I got one was to help my mom and dad drive my younger brothers places.” Harry added: “The day I got my license, I drove home by myself. The minute I was by myself, I realized how stupid I had been for not getting my license sooner. I loved it. Driving alone is the coolest thing.”
Diane Worley’s daughter, Ivy, of Mill Valley, Calif., got her license the day before her 17th birthday.
“It was a combination of not being ready and being too busy to schedule the driving test,” Diane said. “I got my license the day I turned 16, couldn’t wait for the independence of driving. My only serious car accident ever was in my first three months of driving. Ivy has not had an accident yet. I think that speaks for itself.”
In Los Angeles (where I learned to drive), many parents cite the “congested streets” and “crazy drivers” as the reasons that their kids and teen acquaintances are delaying getting their licenses, often past college.
And then there is Trevor Perelson, 18, of Mill Valley, Calif. who simply relishes the journey more by bike than he would if traveling by car. And it’s not as if he doesn’t travel long distances. He just completed a 14-day, 450-mile round-trip bike ride, in addition to using bike transportation daily.
“Driving a car is not even half as much fun as riding a bike,” he said.
“Half of my friends got their licenses at 16,” Trevor said, although most of his college-age friends don’t drive. “If they do, they regret it. To have a car means you’re forced to work or have your parents pay for the car and gas. Not everyone has that luxury.”
Trevor, who has a job building chicken coops, said, “I don’t think it’s worth it to have to work to drive a destructive machine that’s less fun than biking. It doesn’t make sense. I can be anywhere I need to be on my bike in an hour or by bus in 40 minutes.”
“The time spent working just to obtain and drive a car would be wasted. I’d rather live, learn and travel.” Trevor added, “There’s a communal aspect to bike riding. If I see someone I know, and I’m on a bike, I can stop and say hi. You can’t do that in a car. I like to feel the land versus just going over it — feel the steep hills and the humid climate, see the people and hear the noises.”
Anna also recently get her permit. She decided she wants to know how to drive, even if she doesn’t do it often. And, she’s right — it’s a good life skill to have in one’s arsenal. We’re also in the school of many parents who think that, while it’s great that our kid gets around on bike, foot or by carpooling, learning to drive now, with her parents and in her home town, before she goes off to college in a year, will actually make her a safer and more confident driver, when she does inevitably drive (although, frankly, waiting a little was fine, too).
Whatever the laws in your state and the new driver’s age, driving practice and safe habits are paramount.