Buckle Up! The Roadmap to Getting Your Driver’s License
by Alyssa Cocchiola, staff writer
MAY 2021 – Getting a driver’s license is often viewed as a sign of maturity and freedom among teens. However, it also comes with a lot of responsibility. The process to obtain a license is less glamorous than some may think.
“To obtain your license you must study for your temporary license test, take the test and pass, attend driving school, take the final exam and pass,” shared Blessing Mupinga, a senior with her license.
After taking a test on road signs and traffic laws at a Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV), teenagers 15 ½ years old are eligible to get their temporary license. Questions are based on the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws, and consist of two, 20-question sections. In order to pass, 15 questions from each portion need to be answered correctly.
After passing a temporary license test, proof of the following needs to be provided:
– Residency of Ohio
– Date of birth
– Social Security number
– Legal U.S. presence
A temporary license allows drivers to operate motor vehicles while accompanied by their parents or guardians. It is required that drivers collect a minimum of 50 driving hours with their temps, with ten being at night.
Mupinga shared the next steps in the process. “Do what’s known as ‘in-cars’ which are four, two-hour driving lessons with an instructor. And then take a road test where they test you on maneuverability and driving,” she continued. “And if you pass, you get your license.”
Drivers who are 18 years and older can get their license without taking the 24-hour classes or in-cars. Instead, they are required to hold a temporary license for at least six months and complete the required amount of driving hours.
After receiving their temps, the next step for students is to enroll in driving school. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, driving schools operate differently. There used to be a variety of online and in-person classes; however, many driving schools switched to online learning. As a result, doing the driving classes is not as simple as entering a physical classroom.
“I personally think the online/zoom driving classes are better for me because we don’t live close to many driving schools,” Skyler Earl, a sophomore enrolled in All Star Driving School, said. “This means I’d have to drive about half an hour both ways, but with Zoom I can hop on in minutes. I can also either plan [a schedule for] my lessons or look at the clock and realize I have time for a lesson five minutes before it starts. I also feel like I pay attention more than if I were in a classroom.”
Students like Earl are able to get a sense of face-to-face instruction through Zoom lectures as well as transportation benefits. However, being at home still can provide distractions at times.
“One negative is background noise from my family in other rooms,” Earl said. “Another rare problem I’ve had is internet issues, which can interrupt some content from the lesson. Overall I like online driving school a lot; I find it more engaging and convenient.”
However, not all driving schools operate through Zoom. Some are completely asynchronous with online lesson pages.
Blessing Mupinga also took driving classes online and noted it was one of the setbacks for her. “The process [for getting a license] is kind of time consuming,” she said. “I did my driving school online but forgot about it for a while until a month before the program expired.”
Despite the setback, she still managed to complete all the required steps to get her license. She advised future students looking towards getting their license to “only do online driving school if you have good personal agency.”
The Driving Test
After finishing 24 total hours of driving classes and getting practice driving time with parents, the last step is the driving test.
Tessa Wood is a sophomore who recently took her driving exam. “Personally I had no problems with me getting my temps,” she noted. “but I did fail my first driving test on the maneuverability section. That was a bit of a setback.”
Wood had to wait one week before she was able to take the test again, and was going to practice maneuverability before then.
“Although if you’re 18 [and fail the test] you have to take a course. I learned that when I failed my maneuverability section,” she said.
Unlike adults, teenagers who have failed their driving test do not need to take the abbreviated course, due to the fact they already took driving classes previously.
Once someone is 16 years old, they are eligible to sign up to be an organ donor with the consent of their parent or guardian. If they choose to, that information will be written on their license. Currently, more than 113,000 people are registered on the national waiting list for life-saving organ transplants, according to Donate Life Ohio.
Registrations for being an organ donor can be done online or at a BMV when renewing a driver’s license or state ID card.
“I think because it’s such a big decision you make at 16, then I think it should be educated on more,” Kaytlin Haylett, a junior, commented.
Organ donation is an important decision, and making it as a teenager can be a bit overwhelming, especially if someone doesn’t know a lot about what that means.
“I decided to be an organ donor and that’s great,” Haylett said. “I would love to be an organ donor but if people are just like ‘yeah sure,’ and they don’t really know what that comes with, it should be educated.”
“In the driver’s ed, we had to watch hours of organ donor videos. A common myth I have heard is that paramedics will not try their best to save your life if you are an organ donor,” Wood said. “However, this has been disproven time and time again. If a person’s sole reasoning for not becoming a donor is based on this, it could cost lives. One organ donor could save 30 lives and it is imperative that people do their best to help others and make educated decisions based on fact.”
Donate Life Ohio also debunked this myth on its website. “When a person is taken to a hospital, doctors aren’t concerned about registry status and have nothing to do with the donation process. In fact, hospital personnel don’t have access to the donor registry – only organ procurement organizations do.”
Opinions on Driving
While driving allows people to gain access to transportation, not every student is fond of it.
“I don’t like driving ‘cause it’s kind of easy to lose focus and it takes a long time,” Randall Hatfield commented. He is a sophomore who drives to school daily.
“Once I was driving at night and I forgot to turn my headlights on,” Hatfield said. “But also I’m worried because I use google maps because I don’t know where I’m going at any given time, and I’m afraid that if the map turns off, I don’t know what I’ll do to get it back up because I don’t want to look away from the road and I’m afraid to pull over.”
Other students expressed fears about emergency vehicles passing them or unsafe situations.
“I feel unsafe most of the time when I’m on highways or unfamiliar situations such as cities where you have to stop often, and there’s an increased risk,” Wood mentioned.
“I was on the freeway once, and the car cut me off and I had to break and also I was in between two semis and it was very stressful,” she said. “I feel scared sometimes when I’m merging onto the highway.”
To help students overcome driving-related fears, students offered their advice for those looking to get their license.
“Just focus on what other people are doing and kind of compare that to what you are doing, and make sure you’re not doing anything that you recognize as wrong,” junior Zane Ferra commented.
Another junior, Katherine Huntley, advised early drivers to be patient. “It is gonna be scary sometimes when you’re driving; you don’t know what’s going on. Remain calm. Trust whoever’s teaching you. The basic stuff. Don’t try to rush getting your license if you don’t feel ready to take the test or if you don’t feel ready to go on the road, don’t do it, because it’s unsafe if you do. So do what you feel like when you’re ready to.”