Why Georgetown's Ban on Cars Isn't Such a Bad Thing

Going to college opens the doors to many new freedoms, including setting your own schedule, hanging out with friends any time of the day, and deciding when you actually want to clean up after yourself. But depending on where you go to college, you may have to give up one freedom you didn't expect: driving your car. More colleges are starting to ban cars either for freshmen or all undergraduate students living on campus.

 

Georgetown University is one of the colleges that does not allow undergraduates to park vehicles on campus or on nearby residential streets. These restrictions effectively ban car ownership for Georgetown undergraduates. While some students struggle to understand the need for restrictions, it may not be a bad thing. A recent ranking of the worst college campuses in which to bring your car found that the University of Maryland, another D.C.-area school just 30 minutes down the road, ranked as the eighth-worst school for students with cars.

 

But while students can't hop in their cars at a moment's notice, the ban is beneficial for several reasons.

 

Car Ownership Is More Difficult Than Other Areas

Owning a car in Washington, D.C., is more difficult than in other cities. Free parking is minimal in the district, making it difficult to leave your prized parking space when you want to go somewhere. You'll likely spend more time weighing the pros and cons of picking up your groceries to losing a parking spot, especially if you can walk or Uber to a local eatery instead.

 

Parking Passes Are Very Expensive

While other nearby universities do allow cars, it's an expensive decision. For example, the nearby University of Maryland charges more than $600 per year for a parking permit. Outside of university parking, many cities only offer paid parking as an option. Paying monthly for a parking space in a local garage or lot can be costly, especially for college students who don't have the extra cash available for such a big expense.

 

High Insurance Costs for College Students

Most carriers recommend college students have an individual policy instead of remaining on their parents' auto insurance because it protects the parents' liability and financial well-being when an accident occurs.

College students fall into a high-risk category, according to many insurance carriers, meaning premiums are very expensive. Younger drivers' lack of experience means they are involved in more accidents than their more experienced counterparts. The average annual premium is $9,252 in Maryland when students purchase their own policies.

 

Alternate Transportation Is Plentiful

One of the great benefits to living in Washington, D.C., is the numerous options for getting around. Public transportation options include the metro, taxis and city buses, which offer pre-arranged schedules, pickups, and drop-off locations so you can time your travels easily.

In recent years, city commutes have been more plausible with ride-sharing options, such as Uber and Lyft. With just a few taps on your smartphone, a driver will pick you up and take you wherever you need, and these rides are typically cheaper than taxis.

Many major cities like D.C. are also home to car-sharing services such as Zipcar, where you can essentially reserve and pick up a car curbside in various areas throughout the city for longer car trips.

 

Store-to-Door Delivery

Another great attribute to living in the city is the availability of grocery delivery. With companies like Amazon, Instacart, and Shipt, you can have fresh groceries and household necessities delivered to your door. Ordering online is simple, and delivery is quick—eliminating the need to drive to the store.

If you are unsure about attending a college with strict car guidelines or even taking your car to college, here are a few items to consider first.

 

Safety Issues

Safety in cities is an ongoing concern for students. According to the U.S. Department of Education safety statistics, there were three on-campus motor vehicle thefts in 2016 at Georgetown's Main Campus.

 

D.C.-Area Traffic

It's no secret that traffic in D.C. is among the worst in the nation. Trying to navigate congested streets will cause more stress than any college student needs, and it causes delays in getting to your destination.

 

The choice by Georgetown University to limit cars isn't such a bad idea when you take all of these factors into consideration.