Urban students’ road to independence through driving

Urban students' road to independence through driving

Katie Jonckheer , Staff Writer

One would think that teenagers living in a city bustling with so much public transportation may be less inclined to drive their own cars. The city is already crowded as it is, which makes dealing with a car difficult, particularly in the Haight. However, Urban students have a more positive view on becoming drivers as teenagers.

Among current Juniors, there has seemed to be a trend of getting permits as soon as possible. “I got my permit two days after I turned fifteen and a half”, explained Rebecca Gardi (‘17).

Mia Risher (‘17) echoed this sentiment and said, “I got [my permit] five months after I could”.

Maya Berkeley (‘17) had a similar reason, and said, “I’m really young so I wanted to get my permit as fast as possible.”

Sarah Weihl, (‘17), also got her permit early, in freshman year.

When asked why she chose to get her permit and subsequently her licenses when she did, Weihl said, “I really wanted to be able to drive myself places”. Similarly, Risher said, “I wanted to not have to rely on my parents to drive me, and the bus takes too long and sometimes doesn’t go where I want it to go”.

Clare Blackwell, (‘16), has a slightly different view on the necessity of driving as a teen. “I got my permit just because I thought it would be useful to be able to drive places,” she said. “But then halfway through having my permit I realized that I was probably not going to want to drive anyway because parking is horrible and most of the places I want to go, I can get to by bus, but I decided to get my license anyway because I thought it’s just something I need to do before I go to college.”

As stated in an article on Motor Vehicle Safety by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, “In 2013, 2,163 teens in the United States ages 16–19 were killed and 243, were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes… That means that six teens ages 16–19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.”

Despite these risks, many students said their parents supported them in learning to drive. Spencer Rosen (‘17) said, “There was just encouragement, because my brother had gotten his permit and they were just like do it, driving is freeing, then you can go wherever you want whenever you want.” Berkeley also said that she had support from her parents. Weihl said that her parents are not involved when it comes to her driving, however, “They’re really strict about the not driving friends until I have a full year .. but other than that they’re pretty relaxed.”

Contrary to the general trends of Urban students, Mike Stobbe’s states in his article entitled “3 of 4 teens drive, fewer in bigger cities,” “San Francisco, New York City and Boston were at the other end of the spectrum, with only about 30 percent of kids 16 and older saying they drove in the previous month. In those cities, there’s more public transportation and owning and parking a car is more of a hassle.”

There seems to be a general consensus among those who drive at Urban that learning to drive, and especially getting one’s permit, is an important sign of independence. Although public transportation may be a functional way to get around, driving gives teens a sense of responsibility, if they want it, as well as skills for the future.