Students Arrive Late to the Permit Party


Michael Mathis, Staff Writer

When I blew out the candles on my sixteenth birthday cake, I didn’t know what I was getting into. For a good 20 seconds, 16 seemed ever so sweet. I was basking in the celebratory glow of Carvel discount candles atop a homemade delight as my family’s off-key hums of “Happy Birthday” drif towards my ears. It seemed like any other birthday: another year older.

But once the smoke began evaporating, the flair of the celebrations did too, as the conversations from then-on would revolve around the eternal question.

When are you going to get your permit?

Yes, that question still persists today, as I remain one of the few within the junior class who does not have the restricted right to drive. While some may pine for that plastic to grace their wallet compartments, I stick with the majority. According to a 2010 University of Michigan survey, only 28 percent of 16-year-olds in America have their driver’s licenses, in comparison to 44 percent in 1980.

While some people would just overuse the cliché that today’s teenagers are extremely careless, and are just becoming lazy, I am here to speak out on behalf of the unlicensed.

We aren’t lazy. We’re just terrified.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 3,000 teenagers on average are killed each year in car crashes nationwide, making it the leading cause of death for 13- to 19-year-olds in America, today. And why not? Driving, in theory, is the most terrifying thing mankind has created.

Just break it down. Humans can barely walk in a straight line. Now, all of a sudden, we’re qualified to maneuver a 3,500 pound metal deathtrap, filled with one of the only liquids known to mankind that can catch on fire?

Maybe I could understand this if you were in your twenties, but we’re talking about teenagers here. Teenagers, who gaze at screens with more appreciation than they do sunsets or paintings of boats? Teenagers, who have little devices in their pockets now so that they can send mini-letters to friends at lightning speed.

I’m being rational here. We are going to look at our phones.

We’ve even admitted to it, too. The Texting and Driving Safety website reports that 52 percent of teens have admitted to talking on a cell phone while driving while 34 percent have admitted to texting while driving. Ladies and gentleman, we are one “WTF” away from a collapsed lung. So, why drive, when we could do our society a favor, and not die horribly?

I understand this might seem far-fetched, but at least we’ve come to terms with our irresponsibility. Some of us still need to grow up. It takes more time than others to do that. That’s fine. But to the parents who nudge us with a double-barrel shotgun towards the DMV, well, you’re just asking for the opposite effect.

Just accept us for who we are. Because frankly, asking our friends to drive us to Christie’s every weekend, is humiliating enough.