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All Gas, No Brakes: Student Driving

At the time of writing this, I can’t drive yet; my test is in about a week. But I really want to drive. And as I’ve been watching my peers learn how to drive, I’ve heard all sorts of different opinions, ranging from excitement to nervousness to a new sense freedom. Peter Ghelfi (’22) got […]

At the time of writing this, I can’t drive yet; my test is in about a week. But I really want to drive. And as I’ve been watching my peers learn how to drive, I’ve heard all sorts of different opinions, ranging from excitement to nervousness to a new sense freedom.

Peter Ghelfi (’22) got his driver’s license as soon as he could.

“It gave me a sense of independence that I didn’t have before,” he said. Providing his own transportation gives him appreciated leeway and agency that he formerly lacked. Driving in his own car also gives him much-needed alone time and a place to listen to his music.

“It became more fun to travel places,” he says. “And it removed the effort of planning from my trips.”

Peter feels that his license gave him much more independence and freedom to do things than he was afforded before. Driving also appealed to him at a basic and fundamental level.

“I wanted to drive myself places because I thought it was cool,” he said.

The climate at CB surrounding driving is markedly different than I expected it to be. At my previous high school, a public school where I went freshman year, no one really cared all that much about their ability to drive. Here, however, driving is an important social factor.

Being a commuter school, driving affords those who are able to an emboldened sense of independence in things that they previously had no say in. Getting a drink or food before school, having a ride to a friend’s house after school, not having to carpool to sports practice: all are new freedoms that new drivers can take advantage of.

Unlike most people I know, Victoria Abrams (’22) waited to get her license after she turned 16, over a year after she turned 16, in fact.

“I had no problem having my parents drive me around,” she said. “Since none of my friends were driving yet, I didn’t really see the need.”

The social pressures of driving are what compelled her to start the process. “I love the freedom of it,” she says. “I can hang out with my friends whenever I want.”

She doesn’t regret her decision to wait to get her license, though. “Since I’m on the older side of our grade, it wasn’t a dramatic difference from when everyone else got theirs. A lot of people who got theirs at 16 did so at the same time as I was 17.”

Driving represents the first step towards increased independence in the lives of students . That’s the overall impression I’ve gotten — from the people I’ve interviewed, certainly, but also in my own effort to get my driver’s license. As my test approaches, I’ve realized that I’m not thinking about the actual driving part, but instead of the opportunities that present themselves because of being able to drive yourself places.

I’m looking forward to being able to drive soon. A license represents much more than just the ability to use a machine; it represents freedom and the ability to do what I want and the next step towards my independence, the agency to choose where I am and what I’m doing.

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