Research shows teens are pressing the brakes on getting driver’s license

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – It’s almost a rite of passage; getting your license, hopping in the car, and cruising the town with friends.

That’s an image of yesteryear that seems to be going by the wayside, nationally.

More and more parents are finding that teens are pressing the brakes on driving.

There are various reasons, but the numbers also vary based on where you live.

Getting the keys to your own ride is what many teens dream of, or they did.

Research shows just over 25% of 16-year-olds became licensed drivers in 2021. Only 61% of teens had a license by 18.

Betty Harris, the owner of Golden Triangle Driving Academy, said those numbers aren’t surprising.

“Some parents will call and say, ‘My child’s 19. He’s getting ready to go to college. He can’t drive. He doesn’t want to drive. He has no desire.’,” said Harris.

Harris said there is one reason she has seen some enrollment numbers on the move.

“A lot of the schools have discontinued the driver’s ed program. And then those schools where the program is still active, my understanding is that there’s a waitlist. So it’s still a lot of children that are not able to get that skill due to the fact that there’s a waitlist and there are only two semesters of school. So by the time the year is over, they haven’t still been able to enroll in that class,” said Harris.

National statistics show there are fewer teen drivers on the road. But the teens WCBI caught up with said that’s not how they roll.

Allison Krieger said she’s ready to merge into a lane of independence by applying for her license this weekend.

“I was anxious at first when I first started driving and practicing driving, but now I’m really excited to get it because it makes me feel more independent,” said Krieger.

15-year-old Kameron Wofford said he has a bit of time left before he’s able to drive, but he wants to pass the test the first time he takes it.

“I’d say I’m more so excited and nervous at the same time,” said Wofford. “It’s, like, kind of a feeling of will I be able to get it first try cause I know eventually I’ll be able to get it, but I like to go ahead and get it first try, and go ahead and get out there driving.”

Wofford said his friends have their calendars marked for the day they get to sit behind the wheel.

“All of them that have gotten their license were overjoyed to get it and all the ones who still haven’t gotten it, they’re just waiting for the day, counting the days really,” said Wofford.

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