Many 16-year-olds living in New Jersey count down the days until their seventeenth birthday. On their birthdays these 17-year-olds make their way to the DMV and take their driving test. They advance to get their probationary license in which they now have the responsibility to drive without a parent or guardian and take on the new responsibilities the road has to offer. Teenagers can now feel this newfound independence, maturity, and power.
Although, when it comes to the parents’ point of view it’s a little different. Parents constantly fear for their child’s safety behind the wheel. Seeing their kids out on the road by themselves always comes with anxiety. The cliché key toss to their son or daughter as he or she is about to take the car out for the first time makes them both happy and a little worried.
“My dad believes that I am well prepared for the road. He trusts me and knows that I’ll be safe,” said Christina Stanczyk (’15).
On top of the fear is also the cost of insurance, gas, and the car itself. It costs around $1,600 a year to add a new teen driver to the insurance plan of a family without the discount for being a good student. Never mind the chance that the driver gets pulled over or gets into an accident. By running a red light or going over the speed limit, the price of insurance has now skyrocketed. Along with insurance also comes gas money. Depending on where you buy it, gas can get up to about $3.50 a gallon which adds up. Unless the child is paying for gas on his or her own, that’s another fee for the parents or guardians to pay.
Parents can now send their newly licensed teenagers off to get groceries or stop at the drug store.
“My mom likes me having my license because now I can run errands for her,” said Dylan Kost (’15).
Drivers Education teachers also play a huge role in preparing the students for their test. Without this course the child has no previous intelligence of what it’s like to be driving a car.
“This isn’t english or math, no student already has knowledge of what it’s like to be behind the wheel,” said Mr. Smith, a Drivers Education teacher at East.
This course teaches the rules of the road, how a car works, and what it’s like to be driving. This class is extremely helpful because many kids walk in with little to no background information.
“We expect the kids to take what they learn in the classroom and apply it to the road,” said Smith.
Seventeen-year-olds getting their licenses quickly begin to enjoy the new independence. These drivers waited a long time to get to this point. Having to drive with a permit for a minimum of 6 months can get irritating and teenagers often get antsy having to wait.
“I feel powerful, like I can accomplish anything with my newfound freedom,” said Kost (’15).
Although kids do not need a parent or guardian in the car with them, there are still restrictions. No driver with a new license can drive past 11:01 p.m. and before 5:00 a.m. Along with the curfew, the driver cannot have more than one peer in the car unless accompanied by an adult. This particular rule can make it hard to enjoy a license, but also keeps the driver safer.