Getting your driver’s license has long been considered a rite of passage. To teenagers 20 or 30 years ago, obtaining it was a symbol of freedom. Sixteenth birthdays used to be events virtually all teens throughout the country impatiently awaited, counting down the days until their fateful day of independence. But teens today are different. They are less eager to start driving at sixteen, and many even end up waiting until their eighteenth birthday to get their licenses. What changed?
Across the United States in 1996, 85.3% of high school seniors had obtained their drivers license, while in 2015, there was a steep drop in numbers, resulting in an all time low of 71.5%. When questioned about why they had yet to obtain their learner’s permit, one 16 year old sophomore at Canyon Crest Academy had responded: “First of all, I don’t trust myself on the road. I have watched too many documentaries about deaths due to car accidents. Second, I’m just too lazy to start my drivers ed. Also, my dad doesn’t want to pay for my insurance when I drive because it’s especially expensive for young teenagers. Lastly, I don’t want to have a permit for 6 months and then be able to drive by myself. To me, that’s pointless, and I’d rather just get my license at age 18.”
This drop in numbers could be attributed to an overall lack of desire to start driving, economic issues, or simply a fear and sense of distrust with one’s self and ability to navigate safely on the road. Many teenagers just do not feel motivated to put 30 hours of their time into a drivers ed course nor an additional 50 driving with a parent. Where you live can also be a factor, since proximity to important locations, such as school, sports, clubs etc. can determine how necessary it is to even learn to drive. If you can walk to school, why bother? Additionally, the expenses required to own and maintain a car can be far too high a cost for many families. Not only do you have to pay for the vehicle itself, but there are also gasoline and insurance prices to worry about too. Car insurance is much more expensive for young drivers than for the older, more experienced drivers. Some teenagers choose to delay obtaining their license until they are older, in order to avoid having to pay a higher insurance. There is no denying that teenagers are the most dangerous drivers on the road. Countless statistics and studies have shown that drivers ages 16-19 are three times more likely than adults to be involved in a fatal crash. This alone is enough to make teenagers fearful of themselves and their chances of getting into a collision, as well as the possibility of facing serious injuries.