Junior reflects on lack of attempt to get license

September 10, 2018 — by Elaine Toh

Junior talks about experience getting driver's license



Around nine years ago, I sat glued to my dad’s phone in the car mindlessly playing a game as my eyes began to close. Next to me were my two older sisters, both half asleep. Slightly bored, I started to ask my parents when we would finally get past the traffic-filled highway get to Los Angeles, but I was quickly interrupted.

“How could that happen?” my mom asked, followed by a lot of sighs and disappointed “tsk”s.   

Curious, I placed my game down onto my lap and slowly peered out the window. Outside, it was a common scene — a car half-smashed, more than two police cars hovering around the area, and an EMS vehicle, lights flashing.

I was too small and far to see any more than that. Yet, it wasn’t the first time nor last time I would witness something like that. Driving back home from LA, going to an eye doctor or acupuncture appointment and traveling to the airport, the accidents all seemed similar — same beat up car, a couple of police cars and an EMS. Yet, my stomach can never stand them, making me feel nauseous.

Anytime my mom suddenly steps on the brakes, my heart lurches forward. Whenever a car in a different lane dangerously swerves into ours, a pang of fear hits my mind.

I guess that’s why I don’t have a license. I am 17 without even a permit. At this point,I don’t even have any aspiration to get one. Long story short, I’m just terrified.

In fact, according to to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2015 in the U.S., 2,333 teens between age 16 to 19 were killed in auto accidents, and 235,845 were treated in emergency departments for injuries. This equates to approximately six teens dying every day from driving.

I’d rather not risk the same fate, especially since I wholeheartedly believe I might do something stupid while driving.

But the thing is, I’m not the odd one out for being a 17-year-old who can’t drive (the permit part is debatable).

In a recent study by Michael Sivak and Brandon Schoettle from the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute, between 1983 to 2014, the number of teens driving has declined: 18-year-olds from 80 percent to 60 percent, 17-year-olds from 69 percent to 45 percent and 16-year-olds from 46 percent to 24 percent.

What’s the reason for this decline? According to The Atlantic, one study of people between 18 and 39 who did not have driver’s license gave three primary three reasons: “too busy or not enough time to get a driver’s license” (37 percent), “owning and maintaining a vehicle is too expensive” (32 percent) and “able to get transportation from others” (31 percent)."

So I’m not exactly alone in my mindset of not needing to drive until I’m older.

Also, aside from the fact that I’m afraid, there is really no need for me to drive, since I usually just go to and from school to home, which is about a 10- to 15-minute walk (and yes, I don’t have a social life, so I usually don’t go out).

If I ever need to go somewhere further to buy a poster for an English project or a gift for a friend, I can usually just find a small chunk of time when my parents are free to drive me.

I guess my reason for not driving would be that I just don’t want to get a license. With junior year’s workload piling up, I constantly need to catch up on homework or procrastinated essays along with taking the infamous SAT and ACT tests.

So, even though all my friends much younger friends might start their newfound independence while driving, there is no rush for me. When I have the confidence to do so (or when my parents pester me enough), I will go to the DMV and try.

But for now, I can always leech rides off my friends and wait.

Or I can always play Mario Kart.

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