Teenagers hold off getting their license

Some wait longer before getting their license instead of getting it as soon as they turn 16

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Lilit Krkasharian, Yearbook Section Editor

“I’m not in a rush to get my license,” said junior Eddie Terzian. “I feel like it is useless and there is no point in rushing to get it at this age because a lot of things can happen, especially because teenagers think they are so cool since they have a car so they try to drive fast.”

Although some teenagers make their way to the Department of Motor Vehicles the second they turn 16, others, like Terzian, believe that waiting a bit longer before getting their license is the safer and smarter choice. According to the California Department of Motor Vehicles, young drivers between the ages of 16-19 years old have the highest average annual crash and traffic violation rates out of all of age groups. In the United States, the number one cause of death for teenagers is traffic crashes.

This is a serious matter that many teens fail to recognize. A few of them, however, share the same concerns as Terzian. “I don’t want to get my license because I don’t want to drive a car,” said junior Karina Khachaturova. “It looks very dangerous because it’s a very big vehicle and is very hard to manipulate.”

Although state law allows teenagers to begin driving at fifteen and a half years old, health teacher Randy Tiffany thinks this is too soon. “I think it is a good idea to wait because I don’t think 16 year olds are mature enough to operate a 3000-pound weapon,” Tiffany said when asked for his opinion on the matter. The California Department of Motor Vehicles also states that the number of teen drivers involved in fatal car crashes in California in the year 2008 was 217, second highest in the United States behind Texas.

Driving instructor Nerses Gonchegulian from Star Driving and Traffic School has two differing opinions on the matter. “Of course, it is much better for teenagers to wait until they are older and more mature to start driving,” Gonchegulian said. “However, if they are responsible and well-behaved, then they should begin driving whenever they feel that they are ready.”

Gonchegulian also has a 17-old-son and understands the convenience (for parent and teen alike) of having a license at that age. “As a parent, I would not want my son to start driving because it is dangerous and he is too young,” Gonchegulian said. “On the other hand, some teenagers, for example my son, need to know how to drive because their parents are working from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. and they need to be able to go places such as school and after school activities when we are too busy to take them.”

Safety is a major problem for teen drivers. According to the National Safety Council, 50 percent of all teenagers will be in a car crash before they graduate from high school. However, safety is not the only issue. Some teenagers, such as junior George Purtseladze and sophomore Anni Zeynalvand, wait before getting their license because they do not see the importance of having a license at 16 years old. They prioritize academics and other activities over taking their permit test and other steps necessary in order to get their license.

“I didn’t find it to be something I needed,” Purtseladze said. “It wasn’t a necessity. When I turned 16, I realized that driving is a demand for teens our age, and wished I had started the whole process sooner.”

Zeynalvand also concentrated on school instead of getting her permit. “I’ve always dreamt of being able to drive for the first time,” Zeynalvand said. “It’s probably one of the best things about being a teenager. Unfortunately, I have not been able to make time due to schoolwork and extracurricular activities.”

Along with the convenience that comes with being able to drive a car at 16, starting to drive at a young age is also beneficial in terms of insurance rates. “Lagging your license is not the best idea because your insurance will be more expensive,” said junior Ara Sarkisyan. “If you lag your license until you’re 18 and apply for insurance then, your insurance is going to be expensive because you just started driving. If you’re licensed at 16, insurance companies describe you as driving for those two years so you get insured at 18.”

There are, however, complications and obstacles that get in the way of some teenagers who do want their licenses. “I didn’t feel rushed into getting my permit because I’m not going to have a car anyways when I get my license,” said sophomore Nareh Shamiryan. Teenagers know that there will be no car for them to drive whether they have a license or not, so they just hold off on getting it until they are older. In addition, students must take Driver’s Ed before obtaining their permit. This is a costly program that could easily cause financial problems for some students.

Even if Driver’s Ed was affordable, there is still the cost of gas and car repairs to think about.

Despite all of the dangers and worries that come with driving, there are still some teenagers who are eager to get their license because of the whole world of opportunities having a car opens up for them.

Sophomore Niko Tadevossian is one of these excited teenagers. “Get your license as fast as you can, “ Tadevossian said. “Get your permit at 15, and once you get that, wait six months, drive as much as you can so you don’t get into a car crash after your license, and then take the test. It’s 15 minutes. Take it and you’re done.”

Tadevossian added that having a car makes life much simpler and more enjoyable. “You can go out as much as you want,” Tadevossian said. “If you want to get some eggs or your favorite snack or something and your mom can’t make it, just go drive and you can get it as much as you want. You have your freedom. You’ll be happy.”