Sweet 16, or 17 . . . or 18

Why students wait to get their license

Sixteen is an important milestone for students; it’s the age you can finally get your license. After two segments of driver’s education, 50 hours behind the wheel and passing the driving test, 16 year olds are able to gain some freedom.

Out of 93 juniors and seniors, 59.1% of these students got their license when they turned 16. The other 40.9% didn’t get theirs at 16.

 Nearly one third of these students got it when they were 17, and 5.4% of these students got it when they were 18, but 64.9% of the students still don’t have it. There were many reasons why these students had not gotten their license yet. 

The majority of students fell into one of two categories. About half of the students hadn’t taken drivers ed or pursued getting their license at all, while a quarter of students didn’t have the 50 hours required to take the driving test. 

Other students experienced delays due to the coronavirus and were unable to get their license immediately after turning 16. 

“It was harder to get a test than we would have liked, and after I was able to take the drivers test I had to wait for a Secretary of State appointment which were surprisingly hard to get. Ultimately everything was just delayed,” Junior Sabrina Costello said.

While students may have had varying experiences, teachers at Novi high school also have their own stories to tell. While 83.3% of those surveyed got their license at 16, one teacher got hers a few months later. 

Art teacher Laura Shnurstien received her license at 16.5 years old. 

“My mom demanded I practice 40 hours with her the summer I turned 16, because she said I didn’t have enough experience,” Schnurstein said. “This was before the mandated fifty hours rule was in place.”

Iit is clear that there is a social divide between the two age groups. While many students choose to get their license even later than 16 years, Schnurstein can understand why this might be the case. 

I can completely understand if a student waits because the cost of driver’s ed is a barrier to the opportunity of getting a permit.” 

Despite her having sympathy for the students who may have wanted to wait, she did want to get hers as soon as possible when she was younger. 

“Growing up in Michigan, I was used to the idea that it was just what kids did, especially since we didn’t have as much mass transit as Detroit has,” Shnurstein said. “I think driver’s ed was also cheaper, even accounting for inflation, since it wasn’t as long and the teachers were spread more thinly among us teens.”  

When it comes to getting their license, most teens usually want to get theirs right from the get-go. But for others there may be certain roadblocks that would prevent them from doing so. Whether it’s fear or a global pandemic, the road to a license can have many different paths.