Teenagers need to take the wheel and hit the open road

High schoolers can find a sprawling wealth of opportunity and freedom if they obtain their driver’s license as soon as they can.
TEEN FREEDOM Earning a drivers license as early as possible sets teenagers up to become more independent.
TEEN FREEDOM Earning a driver’s license as early as possible sets teenagers up to become more independent.

Starting your first day of high school, throwing your cap in the air at graduation and getting accepted into college are some of the biggest milestones of a teenager’s life. However, there is no goal more important to a high schooler than obtaining the right to drive. 

Being a certified driver is a symbol of independence and maturity that’s hard to match. 

Oftentimes, teens have to rely on their parents or older siblings to take them to school and social events. Constantly being an Uber for their kids can become a hefty burden. Ask any parent, and they’re bound to have stories about ride-coordinating chaos and the pains of 24/7 chauffeur service.

Getting your license can be a breath of fresh air for you and your parents. After years of not being able to hang out with friends because you don’t have a ride, and having to adjust to your parents’ availability, the freedom to jump in the car and take off is incredibly refreshing.

Earning the right to drive after committing time and effort is not only a rewarding experience, but it promotes responsibility in growing teens. For those interested in a job, having a license makes getting to work easier and shows your employer that you’re accountable and available.

Some argue that putting 16-year-olds that lack experience on the road is too dangerous. An analysis published by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety revealed that drivers between the ages of 16 and 17 are more likely to be involved in car accidents than any other age group, as well as causing more injuries and deaths, including to themselves.

But while younger drivers are at higher risk of accidents, keeping them off the roads won’t help prepare them either. If driving experience is the factor at question, it stands to reason that people who start driving at any later age won’t fare any better. 

Instead, drivers should start training as early as possible, while gaining practical experience through test rides accompanied by a trusted adult. 

For parents dealing with mood-swing-prone teens that are difficult to bond with, this can be a prime opportunity to share driving stories and teach valuable lessons. And for teens with worried parents, showing off your driving skills in real-time means they’ll be less likely to have a heart attack every time you turn on the ignition.

The maturity that comes with driving includes the dreary realm of finances. Haters will go on and on about additional, expensive gas prices, but those hit everybody. Trying to wait out a usually unpredictable economy is a game you won’t win and probably don’t want to play at all. 

On the other hand, the costs of car insurance can present a quick turn-off to teens eager to drive – or more likely, to their parents. It’s true that insurance companies tend to charge much higher rates for younger drivers, who are more liable to get into accidents and display reckless road behavior. 

However, that’s still no reason to hold off on getting your license. Drivers with longer histories of accident-free driving are charged less for their auto insurance. Even if you don’t want to pay ridiculous insurance fees, or just don’t plan on driving all that often, you can do your (parent’s) wallet a favor by obtaining your license and continuing on as if you didn’t have one. After you get your license, the cost of insurance will decrease over time, meaning that it’ll cost less when you do decide to start driving regularly. 

On a slightly gloomier note, the ability to get out of the house is particularly valuable on those rougher nights. We’ve all experienced a fight with our parents, or just had a bad day, and needed personal space that goes beyond our bedroom walls. Whether it’s going to the gym, crying in the car or grabbing ice cream to enjoy in solitude, driving yourself somewhere that isn’t home can offer comfort and time to evaluate your mental state.

Obtaining a driver’s license cultivates responsibility and independence, as well as provides personal and financial benefits. No longer will you be a mandatory passenger princess. The sooner you’re able to get behind the wheel, the better. 

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About the Contributor
Kimberly Salazar is an Opinion writer for The Mirror and is currently a sophomore in her first year of journalism. When she’s done trying to catch up with all of her assignments, she’s chatting with friends or listening to her favorite bands like KoRn and Bring Me The Horizon.
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    BobJan 29, 2024 at 8:55 am