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It’s okay if you wait until you’re older to start driving

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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UC Riverside chapter.

If there’s one thing I never expected to have in common with Spongebob Squarepants, it would be my inability to get a driver’s license. Although I admittedly have never even gotten to the driver’s test — I’m not that bad of a driver, I just have never had the chance — not being able to drive or have a car in your 20s is seen by some as a moral failing. This can make the process of getting a license feel even more daunting.

I got my driver’s permit for the first time when I was fifteen, but I was utterly terrified to get on the road. Parking was a challenge, freeways scared the daylights out of me, and there was really no reason for me to get a license, because a car was something that I could not afford — be that the actual purchase, the monthly payments on insurance, or the gas to fuel it. So my first permit expired. I renewed it, was still terrified, and my second one expired. It wasn’t until March 2024 that I went back and got it again — about 4 or 5 years after my previous one expired. In that time, college has come and (almost) gone, and I’ve done a lot of maturing. Getting behind the wheel now feels secure — something that I could never have imagined when I was a teenager with so much behind-the-wheel anxiety that I’d leave sweat prints on the seat. The few years I needed to become a more confident adult absolutely helped me feel like I will be a better driver — but that’s not the end of the story.

There are many articles trying to figure out why Gen Z isn’t driving as soon as older generations did, with many speculating that it’s because of nervousness, overprotective parents, and the like. Although these might be causes for some to not drive, America needs to reckon with the fact that driving just isn’t feasible for a lot of people anymore. I can speak for the anxiety part — I’m still terrified of driving on the freeway, or even main roadways for that matter. The way people drive can be really frightening. Driving test standards vary a ridiculous amount from state to state, so the prospect of getting on a thoroughfare where it’s very likely that everyone around you has a different level of driving education is something out of a nightmare. Defensive driving, while very important, also means that you have to be on constant alert for a potentially long drive. Having to nonstop predict dangerous situations while barrelling down a road is incredibly taxing, costing energy that some just aren’t able to spend.

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Molly Peach / Her Campus

On the subject of taxing, the financial impact of cars isn’t great either — another reason for many people to put off driving until they get older. Cars are expensive, jokingly (but not really) depreciating in value the moment they’re rolled out of the dealership. The cost of a monthly lease or car payment is nothing to sneeze at — in 2023, the average monthly payment for a used car was $533. And that’s not including insurance, which on average is $222 a month in California. Not to mention gas prices… I think those speak for themselves. Cars are an expensive investment that many people cannot outright afford. To wait until one is more financially stable before purchasing a car or even learning to drive makes a more sense in our world today.

The environmental impact of cars is one that has been discussed so many times by much more qualified people that it’s hardly worth mentioning here. As we see the impacts of climate change settle in many of our communities, it’s only natural to want to avoid adding one more car into the problem. Communities should be focusing on public transportation anyway, as it benefits everybody, regardless of car ownership status. 

Car ownership and driving has become a contentious topic, but it doesn’t need to be. Even if by the end of the year I finally beat a fictional sponge by getting a license, the reality of acquiring a car is one that I’m not rushed about. There are so many reasons that someone might want to wait to drive, or get a car until they’re older. If that’s the situation you’re in, there’s absolutely no shame.

Evelyn Homan

UC Riverside '24

Hiya! I'm Evelyn, and I'm a fourth-year English & Creative Writing double major, as well as an Honors student researching independent studying in the 21st century. I love literature, midwest emo and goth rock, alternative fashion, and talking. A lot.