REALITY CHECK: Driving comes with its own set of responsibilities

Apr 18 2011 - 3:06am

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Illustration by EDEN PARKINSON/Bonneville High School/clearing-soma@live.com
Illustration by EDEN PARKINSON/Bonneville High School/clearing-soma@live.com

For 16 years the main focus of all our existence is based upon one seemingly magical number in which a teenager believes the world will instantly become simpler -- no longer having to rely on others for rides and finally having a taste of freedom.

With seat belts buckled and car keys in hand, the awaited age of 16 and getting a driver's license is the focus of all teenagers alike. But this glamorized coming of age, although exciting, has more to the story than simply being allowed a license.

There is a lot of hype behind turning 16 and being able to drive.

"It'll be awesome!" says Jordan Tinge, a sophomore at Fremont High School.

Jake Cronquist, a junior at Fremont High School, says, "I won't have to depend on my parents anymore!"

"I think I'll have a lot more freedom," adds Mckenna Bell, a sophomore at Fremont High.

Nowadays you need a mode of transportation to get almost anywhere. With teens' busy schedules full of sports, work, school and a social life, having to wait on parents to give you a ride everywhere complicates things. We live in a society that has taught us that being able to drive will simplify our lives.

Still have rules

Ah yes, soon enough it's here, the long-awaited day you turn 16 and can drive. You're filled with excitement: freedom at last!

But reality check -- driving comes with a whole new set of responsibilities and rules to take into consideration.

"You still can't drive with friends until after six months, and your parents still have rules when it comes to driving," says Josh Cowles, a senior at Ogden High. "You also need a car; it's a lot more complicated than just being free."

Sixteen-year-olds have higher crash rates than any other drivers, making their insurance rates priciest. The average six-month cost of a car insurance policy with a 16-year-old is $1,745.93, or $291 a month, according to www.carinsurance.com.

Don't think that parents won't use your added freedom to their advantage either; you being able to drive means extra help with picking up siblings and running to the store to pick up some groceries.

"It's nice to be able to drive and not have to be driven but having to run errands for other people is a con," says Kim Smith, an Ogden High senior. "It was cool at the time that I got my license but now that I have it not so much."

Not so simple

Before you receive the responsibilities and freedoms that come with driving you first need to get your license. Sixteen isn't just a magical number in which you are automatically handed a license; it's a bit more complicated than that.

First you need to get your permit. This involves finding a time to be taken to the Driver's License Division during the hours that they are open and passing the test. You cannot receive your license until you have had your permit for at least six months.

You also have to take driver's education (18 hours of classroom instruction) and get a certain amount of road hours with and without an instructor, plus find the means to pay for this and many other requirements. Many teens are now opting to wait to get their licenses due to these and other reasons.

"I have to pay for it. It takes time to get the money," says Kylee Chankio, a senior at Fremont High.

Or Vaughn Toone, a Fremont junior, says, "Sports get in the way. They take a lot of time."

How cool are we?

Do you remember when you were younger and wanted a cool new toy that everyone else had? Then you finally got that toy and all of a sudden it wasn't as cool anymore. Well, that's kind of how some teens view driver's licenses.

"It's kind of a big deal, but then you get it and it's like, everyone else has one ... this isn't so cool," says Cameron Boerstra, a senior at Fremont High.

Cowles says, "It's not all it's cracked up to be; it's just another thing that comes with life and growing up. Yeah, you get to drive but you also have to pay for gas, insurance, and get permission from your parents."

"Once you can drive you don't have to worry about finding a ride and you get to do more stuff," says Taelynn Abrego, an Ogden High sophomore. "There's also a lot more to worry about like getting gas. The most disappointing feeling is putting $30 in and still not even having a full tank of gas!"

So just like everything else in life, turning 16 isn't as cool as it looks on TV and there is more to the story. For some this story may mean not having a license at all; for others this means having a license but taking on added responsibilities.

Yet no matter your story, you can still the make number 16 sweet.

Caitlynn Kindall is a sophomore at Ogden High School. She enjoys softball, debate and being outdoors. E-mail her at cuteboardgirl95@msn.com.

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