Ready, Set, Don’t Drive

Junior Shreya Ahuja and sophomores Kenya and Staci recount their decisions to postpone a major life milestone: taking Driver’s Education and earning their licenses

Illustration by Evi

However, the percentage of 16-year-olds who get their licenses is less than 50. According to federal data released in 2008, only 31 percent of teenagers got their license at 16, while the rest waited.

Hockaday girls don’t follow this trend as the majority get their license at 16. The few that don’t choose not to because of busy schedules, driving anxiety or simply because they don’t see the need.

Between varsity tennis, dance and debate, junior Shreya starts her homework each night at 8:30. Due to her schedule, taking Drivers Education during the school year wasn’t feasible, and she decided to postpone getting her license.

“I didn’t have enough motivation or time to take myself [to Driver’s Education] during school,” Shreya said. “Looking back on it, there was no way that was going to happen.”

She instead waited until the summer after her 16th birthday and was able to get her license this January, a month after her 17th birthday.

When reflecting on her decision, Shreya said she wished she had received her license sooner.

“I couldn’t go as many places as my friends could because I relied on my parents to take me everywhere,” she said. “After-school activities were especially hard because I didn’t have transportation. In an ideal world it would’ve been nice to get it earlier, but with my schedule I don’t think it was possible.”

Junior Christine was one of the many who upon turning 16, immediately took the drivers test in hopes of getting her license.

“I wanted to get my license as soon as possible because I wanted that independence,” Christine said. “Not relying on your parents to drive you places gives you so much more freedom and I was really excited to get that.”

Sophomore Staci, on the other hand, said she had no need or interest in getting her license while still in high school.

“I find it pointless to get my license. Everyone else can drive, so if I need a ride somewhere I can just ask my friends,” Staci said. “I wouldn’t have a car anyway, so I don’t need it.”

Staci plans to get her license after college as she does not foresee her ever needing to drive until then.

“I think everyone makes it a bigger deal than it is,” Staci said. “You have your whole life to drive, but people rush to do it when they’re just 16.”

Sophomore Kenya too was in no rush to get her license. After being in several car accidents over the course of her life, she hesitated to start driving herself.

“I’d never liked driving because of how little I trusted the other people on the road, and I definitely wasn’t ready to start driving myself until now,” Kenya said.

Now 16, Kenya has begun the process of getting her license after feeling the strains of being dependent on others for transportation.

However, not driving has its benefits, according to Kenya, including not having to pay for gas, avoiding lonely car rides and high insurance.

The decision to start driving is unique to everyone and can vary based on a person’s family, schedule and need.