Is Drivers Ed Necessary For Adults?
by Alyssa Cocchiola, staff writer
MAY 2021 – Not all students get their driver’s license when they turn 16. In fact, the amount of 16 year old drivers in America decreased from 46.2% in 1983 to 25.6% in 2018, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
Unlike teenagers, adults over the age of 18 are not required to take driving classes.
Based on the data from 2018, the majority of new drivers were not required to take these classes. Instead, after completing 50 hours of driving and holding their temps for more than six months, they can take their driving test. If they fail their first try, they must take an abbreviated driver-training course prior to their next test.
Blessing Mupinga, a senior at Bio-Med stated that she thought it was unfair that 18 year olds could skip the classes, “I do think it’s unfair, “ she said. “But at the same time, by those people choosing to wait two whole years, they’re missing out on a lot of potential opportunities like making money from having a job, that young people with licenses can now do.”
According to the CDC, teens are more likely to speed than adults and less likely to maintain a proper distance between the car in front of them and themselves. In 2018, it found that 30% of male drivers 15-20 years of age and 18% of female drivers in the same age demographic were involved in accidents due to speeding. Many incidents on the road can be attributed to inexperience and distracted or drowsy driving.
“Before I was like ‘why don’t they lower the driving age?’ And then I realized how dangerous it actually is because I took the classes,” said Skyler Earl, a sophomore with her temps. “And they also give you a lot of tips. Yeah, I think you should take [the classes] regardless of age.”
State required driving classes cover important topics such as road rules, what to do in certain situations, and consequences for participating in unsafe driving behaviors. Knowledge on these topics could make drivers more conscious of their actions.
“Knowing what I know about starting to drive, I feel everyone should have to take a class or some sort of behind-the-wheel instruction before getting a license,” Kait Antonelli, a senior, said. “I learned a lot in the driver’s ed that I had no idea about beforehand. These things help to keep me safe. Not only this but turning eighteen does not guarantee maturity/ability to make rational decisions. I think everyone should take a class.”
While Antonelli benefitted from driving classes, there were financial setbacks.“I had to pay for my classes as well as my car. I have bought everything for myself, as well as gas. So money was a bit of an issue, however I’m so glad I got my license.”
For Antonelli, she felt that paying for things herself helped her gain independence, and that the classes for drivers were important. However, not all students are able to get a job in high school, and can’t afford to take the classes.According to DriversEd.com, the estimated cost for getting a license at 16 is around $350-500. This can contribute to the percentage of teens who take drivers education.
Other students had different opinions on the importance of driving school.
Zach Boyden is currently a junior with his temporary license, who believes that getting a license in high school is not important. “I didn’t need it,” Boyden said, referring to his license. “I wouldn’t need it, and there are probably a lot of people that wouldn’t also need it unless they have to have a job, which I feel like it is early to start having a job in high school unless you’re a senior.”
He felt that he was not missing out on any information by not taking the classes and is just completing the temps test and required driving hours.
Robert Greenwood is another junior who has his license. “My older brother actually doesn’t have his license and he hasn’t really needed it. In high school, I don’t really think it’s a requirement. I don’t think that people really need it. I got around for most of the time without my license and I didn’t really go for it at first. I waited a whole year before I actually got mine.”
Despite this, he still agreed that driving classes should be mandatory for everyone, regardless of age. “My younger brother thinks that he’s ready to drive and he has not taken any of his classes yet, so yeah. I think that when I took mine, there was a lot of valuable information that I got from it,” Greenwood said.
Most students believed that taking the driving classes were beneficial to their driving experience, and should be considered for 18 year olds to take, despite the fact it is not required for them.
“I don’t really care about fair; I just don’t think that’s necessarily safe,” Katherine Huntley commented about driving school not being mandatory for adults. “There are some things they teach you in there that I think are pretty essential for driving, like how to control yourself in different weather, which I guess you learn, but sometimes you need it laid out for you in writing.”
The majority of drivers, as of 2018, got their license after they were 18 years old, and were therefore not required to take the classes. Because of this, they miss out on an opportunity to get a more structured way of learning the road rules and practices.
“There’s not much of a difference between a 16 year old and an 18 year old. So I think that 18 year olds and adults should also be doing that just for safety,” Huntley concluded.
Driving school teaches students knowledge they can take with them on the open roads, but are ultimately too expensive for some students to afford. This contributes to the amount of teens who get their license at 16 years old.
As for the license itself, almost all students interviewed believed that getting a license was not important in high school, and up to the individual and their needs of transportation. However, most students believe that driving schools are really beneficial for driving, and would recommend students who can afford it to take them.