Yes–that’s my choice
By Carly Sitzer
This past December, while on vacation in Florida with my family, we went to an arcade. I’m guilty of not always acting my age, so even as an 18-year-old, I was more than happy to go. I was particularly happy with the racing game where I sat in a “car” and steered the wheel as I tried to pass the other cars on the virtual track.
“I’m so proud,” my dad teased. “It’s about time I saw you, by yourself, behind a wheel!”
I rolled my eyes at the predictability of the joke. I guess, in a way, I asked for it. I’m 18 years old, I live in a suburb, I completed driver’s ed, and I don’t have a driver’s license. All I left out is the punch line.
Before you ask any more questions—yes, I’m fully capable of driving. No, I didn’t take my road test a million times and fail. Nor did I do everything perfectly except parallel park, forget to signal, run a stop sign or any other driving test disaster that we’ve seen a million times in TV shows and movies. I never took my road test, nor do I want to.
I took driver’s ed my junior year of high school; every Tuesday after school, I would get in the Bell Auto School car and dread my turn driving.
I could blame my hatred of driving on my earliest memory behind a wheel. I could not have been older than 10, and it wasn’t a car—it was my grandfather’s golf cart. How and why I ended up with the keys to the cart is vague, but I do know the end result involved a tree (and a plea from my grandfather to never, ever drive the cart again).
I took his advice. Of course, I never drove a car either (at least not without the supervision of my parents or driving teacher). It’s a mystery to most people why I don’t drive. Explaining that I simply don’t like to drive is even more mysterious.
It makes me anxious; the fact that I’m in control of a machine that’s significantly bigger and more powerful than me is frightening on its own. Now, add in the fact there are rules to follow and that I have to trust the millions of other drivers on the road. I just have a hard time imagining it as casually as other people do.
Most people, like Sarah Kronwith, see driving as a way to freedom: You can get around on your own without the dependence on your parents.
“I wasn’t in any rush to get my license,” Kronwith, who waited months after her seventeenth birthday to take her road test, said. “But now that I have it, I can’t imagine my life without it.”
For me, however, driving a car seems like a huge responsibility. Of course, most people who know me think I’m the only person on the planet who is now able to vote and buy cigarettes, porn and products from infomercials but won’t drive. This is, obviously, not the case. There are others, like Justin Harris, who just don’t see the need for a license.
“It was never necessary or even that beneficial for me to be able to drive,” Harris explained. “During high school I had friends who would drive me and parents who wanted to drive me whenever. Basically there was no reason for me to actively pursue a license, so I didn’t.”
In almost all states, the majority of teenagers who are of age and do not drive is higher than the percent of teenagers who have their license as soon as they can. Additionally, most states are seeing a decline in teenagers who get their license at the first opportunity—whether it’s their sixteenth or seventeenth birthday. However, the misconception remains that it’s urgent to get your license the first chance you get.
“I initially had a huge urge to get my license right after I turned 17, but after a little bit, it almost became easier not to,” Jason Brown said.
For now, while it can be problematic that I’m constantly a hassle to my friends and family because they are always driving me somewhere, and I’m still dependant on others, I still see that as the lesser of two evils. A nervous driver is a bad driver, and I would rather not put myself and other people on the road at risk.
“I’d rather you choose not to drive than have you get behind the wheel as an uncomfortable driver,” my mom said to me after one of many conversations about driving.
While I do see myself getting my license at some point, I’m just not in any hurry right now. I know that driving, as with most things, is just a matter of practice. So, for now, I’m just going to continue practicing my driving, thanking my friends profusely for the rides and hopefully winning at silly driving games in arcades.
Carly Sitzer is a freshman journalism major. She probably does have her license but enjoys all this attention too much to admit it. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.