Waiting for freedom; is it worth it?

 Published May 23, 2012

MA students take their time when getting their licenses

When they do hit the roads they are more experienced

Today is sophomore Kathryn Doty’s 16th birthday. She plans to get her driver’s license within days.

“I want to get it because the freedom that comes with it is very appealing to me,” said Doty.

Freedom is something most high school students look forward to, but there are many factors that play into choosing to wait to drive, as some Minnehaha seniors know.

One factor can be parents. Parents can play a role in both the helping and hindering in getting a license.

“When I lived in California, my parents wanted me to wait until I was 17,” said senior Brooke Singletary, who moved to Minnesota last winter. “California drivers are crazy. I almost had my permit in California, but then we moved here, so I had to start over with getting it.”

California has the highest rate of crashes in the country. Though it (California) doesn’t have the highest fatal crash rate, this is still a major safety concern.

Crashes, especially with teen drivers, can drive up insurance rates. This can cost the family a significant amount of money.

Many insurance companies offer discounts for new drivers who are on honor roll or have taken driver’s education classes.

“My parents also wanted me to wait,” said senior Allie Thomas. “I would have to share a car with my older brother. They wanted me to wait until he went to college so we wouldn’t have any conflict over the car.”

Other factors  that contribute to the problem include the availability of a car and the amount of responsibility a new driver can take on.

Parents usually share the family car with their new drivers, which some experts believe is a better solution than buying a brand new car for their teen.

“Before I got my license, my parents could always drive me places,” said senior Cyrie Holman. “They could pick me up from practice or whatever. They really encouraged me to get my license, though. Now I can drive myself and pick up my sister from volleyball or play practice.”

Other responsibilities include limiting the amount of distraction while in the car and setting a curfew.

“Texting and driving is one of the worst things you can do,” said Holman. “I know a lot of people who do it. When I ride with them and they start doing it, I always tell them to put it away. It’s so dangerous.”

Minnesota law states that during the first six months of driving with a license, there may be no more than one passenger under the age of 20 in the car. After that, three passengers can be in the car for another six months.

A law was recently passed limiting driving between midnight and five a.m. in the first six months of having a license, unless with a licensed adult over 25.

With all these factors out in the open seniors Cyrie Holman and Allie Thomas shared some learned lessons.

“Because I waited, I think I’m a better driver,” said Holman. “I had two years to drive around with my parents and to practice.”

Today, with so many distractions, it seems driving is almost second to everything else.

Between 2005 and 2007, teens between the ages of 16 and 17 have been involved in 116 fatal crashes, resulting in 133 deaths in Minnesota.

“My advice to new drivers would be to wait until you’re comfortable and ready to drive on your own,” said Thomas.

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About Rachel Bartz

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