Is it worth it for NYC teens to learn to drive?
As New Yorkers, we have the privilege of being able to commute without the necessity of a car. We can hop on the subway, hail a cab, ride a bus, float on the ferry, or even pay to use a CitiBike; the transportation options are nearly limitless. While many areas throughout the United States rely solely on personal cars as means of transportation, New York is not one of them, and so some question how necessary it is for teens to learn how to drive this city.
Many students who live in rural or suburban areas learn to drive at the age of fifteen, getting their permits, licenses, and even their own cars in years following. However, many New Yorkers who are the same age or even older, including a large cohort of Packer students, do not make that same effort to get their license.
“I didn’t get my permit because I thought it would be useless,” said Stella Rehbein (‘20). “I want to get my license before college, so I’ll probably take drivers ed. I don’t think it’s worth it to get your license if you live in New York City.”
A survey to the Upper School revealed that many people had similar opinions to that of Stella. “The public transportation is top notch,” one student said. “Why would I need my license?”
That being said, the majority of students (approximately 82%) thought that learning to drive will be necessary at some point, despite currently living in New York City. “Most people will end up having to drive somewhere (a road trip, in another country, in another state during college or time spent in other places) at some point in their lives and, personally, I want to have the option to drive wherever I am, whether I absolutely need to or not,” wrote one student.
Many students expressed the belief that driving is an important life skill, regardless of whether or not you live in a metropolitan area. While it may seem rather pointless to need to know how to drive while living in New York City, the hardest type of driving is arguably in metropolitan settings, which potentially increases the value of learning to drive in New York.
“The prominence of traffic, chaos, jay-walking, and lack of parking in New York City makes it easier to feel comfortable behind the wheel in other places,” one student said. “If you can drive in New York, you can essentially drive anywhere.”
Xander Guarna (‘20) explained that he often drives to school in order to practice for the driving he does in the summer. “I love driving and I think that it’s completely worth it to learn to drive in the city.”
Of those surveyed, 97% said that they wanted to learn to drive at some point or another. With driving comes freedom, and while many metropolitan areas do not require driving to travel, many places in the United States and the larger world do. Though driving in New York City may seem worthless to some students, it is a skill that will likely prove helpful later in life. New York, as a bustling metropolitan setting, is potentially the most practical place to begin driving, which is a fact that students should perhaps consider when deciding whether or not to devote themselves and their time to learning.