One of the biggest rites of passage that nearly all teenagers go through is the experience of learning how to drive. Being able to drive opens up a whole new world of involvement and social activity to young people, who are able to partially break the chains of dependency on their parents and burst forth in a life of running errands and driving to school events for themselves.
Being able to drive oneself is a liberating experience and a fitting reward for the hours of learning and stressful driving tests that students must go through to obtain the ultimate symbol of their vehicular independence: their driver?s license.
Teenagers must overcome many obstacles in order to achieve this symbol, the most stressful for many being driving with a terrified parent in the passenger seat, clutching for their dear life as they watch their child accelerate way to fast into adulthood and then drive away.
Sophomore Zach Passmore, who is in the process of learning to drive with his parents, describes how the experience of driving is a mutually terrifying experience for parent and offspring.
“At first when I was learning how to drive, I was super nervous and I really just didn?t want to hit anyone,” said Passmore. “However as I drove more and more I grew more confident. My mom gets pretty nervous when I drive but she is also starting to get more confident in my ability.”
But parent?s frantic concern for their fledgling driver is not unwarranted. From texting to eating, drivers today (especially teenage drivers) can be very easily distracted.
According to research done by the Center for Disease Control, automobile accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in America, with over one third of all teenager deaths involving a motor vehicle accident.
Instituting safe driving practices is one of the main focuses of the DMV and many other driving organizations.
A recent example of this focus is the crusade for no texting and driving, a problem that has proven rampant among teenagers. Recent research shows that texting while driving has proven to be as dangerous as drinking while driving, causing a similar level of distraction and a similar number of incidents.
It is concerns like this that tempts parents to keep their children from learning to drive before they reach the age of eighteen. This is the case with senior Kathryn Damschen.
“I didn’t get my permit until I was eighteen because my parents kept wanting me to wait on getting it,” Damschen said. “I think it was because of this that I kept putting it off, and because I was sick for a while. But now I have my permit and I’m learning, so my parents are supportive of it.”
Nevertheless some teenagers, including Tyler Dondlinger, ’15, think that, despite the possible risks, the independence of driving, partnered with the maturity that owning a car requires, are both extremely positive results, and necessary stepping stones that teenagers must cross over to be an adult.
“I think it?s important for teenagers to gain some freedom and independence by getting their license,” Dondlinger said. “In my life, being able to drive has given me more free time and helped me have my own life. I no longer have to plan my social life around my mom?s schedule, I can have my own agenda, and it is very freeing.”
For more information on the dangers of teen driving, read Near death exhibit showcases avoidable fatalities.
For more features, read the Nov. 19 article, Featured App: goREACT, Molecules, VSB Chemistry
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