Like many high school sophomores, Elizabeth, whose name has been changed to respect her privacy, spends most of her weekend nights hanging out with friends. No matter where she ends up on Friday or Saturday night, she always texts her parents asking them to pick her up as the evening ends.
While she waits in front of the frozen yogurt shop for her parents pick her up, all of her friends get into their respective cars and drive home — they already have their permits or drivers licenses.
Getting your driver’s license is a big deal for sophomores. No longer do you have to be chauffeured around by parents in the car without any music in the fear of waking up a little sibling sleeping in the back seat or being seen by a friend.
Being able to drive yourself not only allows you to crank up the music as loud as you want, but also gives you a feeling of freedom that all teenagers want to experience.
“It’s hard for people who don’t want to start driving because it’s a bit like peer pressure to get a permit like everyone else; sort of the bandwagon effect, ” sophomore Helena McDowell said.
Some sophomores do not feel the pressure to get a permit from their friends, but rather from themselves. They wish to lighten the weight on their parents’ shoulders by offering to drive themselves around to school, baseball practice or art class.
“I kind of feel pressured because I think to myself that permits and licenses can all be so useful to parents, so they do not have to send me everywhere,” sophomore Anisha Patwardhan said. “Even though I bike to school, I can’t bike everywhere I go like a car could. ”
There also exists the classic argument that teenage brains are not yet fully developed, which results in more car crashes and deadly injuries. Research everywhere has been conducted on how the development of the brain has affected the average teen driver.
Studies conducted by the California Department of Motor Vehicles and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that the crash rate for 16-year-olds is 3.7 times higher than drivers of all ages, and that motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States.
Frances E. Jensen, a professor of neurology at Children’s Hospital Boston and Harvard Medical School takes a slightly different stance on this argument.
“The teenage brain is not just an adult brain with fewer miles on it,” Jensen said to Harvard Magazine. “It’s a paradoxical time of development. These are people with very sharp brains, but they’re not quite sure what to do with them.”
Getting a learners permit is a big part of any teen’s life; it is a symbol of freedom and responsibility, but for some students, it is better to wait.