Driver’s License Ticket to Adulthood

Sofie Blaj, Staff Writer

When I was little, I could not wait to get my driver’s license. It was the light at the end of the tunnel of childhood and signified the beginning of independence. But in Moraga, the number of newly-turned 16-year-olds rushing to the DMV is surprisingly few. I know so many sophomores, and even juniors, who are eligible to take their driver’s test but have opted to put it off.

According to University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute’s 2015 study, the number of high school seniors who can drive has fallen from 85.3% in 1996 to 71.5%, and these statistics see no sign of stopping. Students exhibit signs of having less interest and less determination to drive.

Junior Robert Wang is 1 of these few who had postponed getting a license. “I just didn’t really know what I was doing but eventually when I had the energy in me to actually go down to the DMV, I got my permit,” he said.

It appears that this lack of independence is a symptom of a larger epidemic of teenage codependency. According to The Washington Post, since 1976, teens have delayed doing things such as getting a job, going on dates, drinking, and getting their license.

For Moraga teens, a major contributing factor is the coddling they receive from their parents. Especially in Moraga, obtaining a driver’s license is just not that imperative because parents are all too willing to dote on their children, eagerly acting as personal chauffeurs well into what was previously considered adulthood.

The irony, of course, is that our parents’ generation was eager to drive.  Many of them took the opportunity to earn their license in order to break free of their own parent’s control over their lives.  They did everything they could to get out of the house and away from the rules and expectations of their mothers and fathers.

This shift will no doubt lead to a reduction of real-world readiness for Moraga teens who aspire to some day move outside the bubble. Not driving is just 1 more way that Campolindo students avoid responsibility, choosing instead to rely on the convenience provided by their all-too-willing parents.  To learn to drive is to commit to a set of skill and rules.  Failure to develop those skills or adhere to those rules results in real consequences, not the least of which could be serious injury.

And yet this is precisely why driving is a necessary rite of passage for teens.

Postponing learning how to drive promotes a life of dependency. An article by CNBC reports that 30% of teens now believe that by the time they turn 30, they will still rely on their parents for money.   Perhaps driving is a stepping stone to greater independence, including financial independence.

Those who put off driving may be the ones who find themselves living on mom and dad’s couch even if they make it through college.

Driving teaches responsibility, self-control, and common sense. Driving stimulates many areas of the brain.

Those who choose to put off their driver’s test are actually putting off their entire adulthood, and sowing the seeds of dependence for a lifetime.