Viewpoints Editor Valeria Garcia-Pozo sits dejectedly in a car on Oct. 3. Garcia-Pozo did not get her learner’s permit immediately and now regrets this and wishes she could drive. Photo by Natalie Ripps.
Viewpoints Editor Valeria Garcia-Pozo believes that teens should get their driver’s licenses early on.
I was 14, soon to be 15, when my parents started getting excited about the possibility of me driving. My mom got me a manual from the DMV and gave it to me around a month or two before my birthday, saying, “Start studying.”
I looked at the manual and tried passively to consume what seemed like thousands of miniscule bullet points of information that I was sure were crucially important to become a driver.
And then I fell asleep.
It was the ultimate procrastination. I never wanted to get around to studying, and my parents wouldn’t let me take the test if I didn’t.
Eventually I figured, I had parents who could both drive me around and didn’t mind doing so. There was no need to rush. Right?
It wasn’t until a year and half later that I finally buckled down and studied for the learner’s permit test (a process which, with the help of online study guides, didn’t turn out to be so tedious after all).
I did this out of sheer necessity — I was going on my first plane ride alone, and my father wanted me to have the permit as identification.
But once I went on my first couple practice runs, I fell in love with driving.
The thrill of pushing the gas pedal (however hesitantly) and making the vehicle go where I wanted, combined with the idea of being able to get places by myself, was enough to make me wish I hadn’t waited.
Now, since I got my learner’s at 16 and a half, I’ll have to wait until June this summer to get my license and finally start driving by myself.
The consequences are so much more inconvenient than I expected them to be.
Whenever I want to spend time with my friends, have to go to school, or have rehearsal for a play, I have to rely on my father to drive me there and back, which isn’t the best option for either of us — he also has my younger brother to tote around everywhere.
Instead of being able to make decisions for myself about whether I can go places or not, I still have to ask my dad whether he’d be willing to drive me there. If somewhere is too far away or he doesn’t have time to take me there or bring me home, I can forget about going.
Despite the fact that I can sometimes count on my friends who do have their licenses to drive me places, that isn’t an ideal fix. They each have their own busy schedules and would have to go out of their way to get to my house, which is across town from most of their places.
There’s a lack of independence I could have avoided just by being proactive.
If I’d gotten my permit earlier on, I’d be driving by now. If teenagers want independence, they should get their learner’s permits the moment they turn 15.
I know I wish I had.