Not Everyone Needs a Sweet Sixteen License


Student vehicles in the VHS parking lot. These cars belong to students who have gotten their licenses. Photo by: Greta Pankratz

Caroline Marsden and Greta Pankratz

VHS Students Who Are 16+ Give Us the Scoop On Life Without A Driver’s License

Getting a driver’s license is a right of passage in American society. Media revolves around the idea that your sweet 16 means a car and a driver’s license. However, in recent years, the number of  teens that have a license has declined. According to a study at the University of Michigan Transport Research Institute, the amount of teens who have a license has been decreasing. In 1983, 46.2 percent of 16 year olds had a license, whereas now the number dropped to 24.5 percent. Additionally, 36 percent of students say that the over all cost of getting a license is their reason for not having one. 37 percent of teens claim they are “too busy” to get their license. Having to balance schoolwork, after school activities, and sometimes a job can be difficult. Getting a license is another responsibility that some teens don’t have time for. Some Ventura High School teens without licenses voiced their opinion on the situation. 

Seniors Grace Wagner, Trenton Flores and Jacob Hernandez share the fact that they do not yet have their license. Hernandez commented, “I am waiting until I’m eighteen to get my license.” Photo by: Greta Pankratz

Issues such as money, parents’ lack of trust, the extensive amount of time it takes to learn, and the difficulty of the test hold back many teens from getting their licenses. When asked their reasons for waiting, Seniors Grace Wagner and Trenton Flores expressed that money was an issue. Wagner said, “my parents and I can’t afford the training.” Similarly, Flores explained that it is “mostly because of the money, but also I don’t really need it.” It was a common pattern among most of the students who were interviewed that not having to pay for gas was a definite plus.

Anna Grossi, a junior at Ventura High School, declared “I like walking everywhere, but I feel left out because I can’t drive myself to Los Angeles at 2 a.m. A perk is that I got some nice strong legs from walking all the time.”

Junior Anna Grossi and Sophomore Nathan Pennington are both working towards getting their license. Photo by: Greta Pankratz

The pressure of being a teen can easily make people feel left out. VHS seniors Sophia Rocha and Ariana Nelson have both felt this. Nelson commented, “All my friends can drive somewhere and I feel stuck at home.” Rocha felt the pressure a little differently. She described, “It’s more guilt than anything because I get rides from friends all the time, but I can’t give them back.” 

The lack of having a license can have some perks for many students. Students without licenses don’t have to worry about the financial responsibilities such as paying for gas, insurance, and a car. They also don’t have to face the fear of getting into accidents or deal with the road rage of people who don’t have patience for young drivers. Senior Daniel Metten claimed, “I don’t have to pay for gas or insurance. I also don’t need to worry about causing an accident.” Flores also pointed out that “my carbon footprint is reduced and I get to be more active.”

These teens may not have their licenses now, but they all have plans to get them in the near future. It is completely normal for people to reach milestones at different points in their lives. Every teen has a different story and lifestyle, and can move at whatever pace is comfortable for them. Students shouldn’t drive themselves crazy over the pressure of learning to drive.