By Ethan Rodrigues
The school year is in full swing, and Placer has eased into its daily routine, besides one notable change. As the students have reacquainted with the campus, it has become increasingly evident that the number of students taking advantage of the intended parking spaces has significantly reduced compared to recent years.
Senior Abigail Caron, who has had experience parking on campus since her sophomore year, shared her insight on the situation.
“It’s definitely significantly reduced, especially just from last year alone. I always park on specifically one side and it would usually get completely filled up… I would have to park elsewhere, but this year I can always get my spot.”
As supported by Megan Williams of News Leader in her article titled “Teens Waiting Longer to Get Driver’s Licenses,” several studies have proven the decline in young adults who acquire a driver’s license. Serving as a prime example, “the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute reported in 2016 that… 18-year-olds fell from 80 percent in 1983 to 60 percent in 2014, 17-year-olds decreased from 69 percent to 45 percent, and 16-year-olds plummeted from 46 percent to 24 percent.”
Such a decline in interest in driver’s licenses could simply pertain to the fact that currently, a law for the state of California in effect since 2006 places “… two restrictions on your driver license, if you are under 18 years of age: For a period of 12 months, you may not transport passengers under age 20 unless you are accompanied by a parent, guardian, instructor or licensed driver over the age of 25, and you may not drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m,” according to the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles.
Although this is a major factor that is even ignored by daring teenagers, one consequence is the possibility that the restrictions placed upon teens by law hinder their motivation.
“You have to drive with a parent for a certain amount of time… If someone wants to drive a friend, technically that’s not legal, although I know a lot of people still do that… Otherwise, there are a lot of little things here and there, and people just don’t want the responsibility of driving a car,” claimed Caron.
For certain teenagers, this form of moderation of their freedom would be an irritant, which justifies their lack of urgency in the pursuit of a driver’s license.
Placer senior James Linder has driven to Placer, leaving his car in the upper parking lot, since last year.
Linder explained that “in California, with the year that you have your provisional license, you can drive yourself, but there’s not a whole lot beyond that that you get, so some of that’s annoying.”
In addition to these restrictions upon the receipt of a provisional license, when under 17 ½, one must now pay a driving instructor to complete the required six hours of driver training while on a permit. Although Placer offers the free summer driver education class, for those who do not take advantage of that opportunity, they must pay for and complete a 25 hour in class or equivalent online driver education course. Also, time restrictions are a factor for teens with homework, sports, and other extracurricular activities.
Linder explained that “it took me a long time to get through all my permit requirements. I did it online, and I know the class is a week long… that’s a commitment that forces you to get it done. But having to do it on my own time and responsibility, it was difficult to get the motivation to get it done.”
Further supporting this trend, the State of California Department of Motor Vehicles states, “If you are over 17 ½ but under 18 years of age, you may get your permit without the driver education and driver training certificates however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you are 18 years of age.”
Resulting from these regulations is the tendency for students to postpone their quest for a driver’s license in order to avoid the time and money tied to driver education courses and behind-the-wheel driver training.
Senior Cayenne Gularte has been driving and parking in both of Placer’s designated lots since the beginning of her junior year. She provided her perspective, expressing, “For a lot of kids, I feel like their parents always have the time to drive them somewhere, so they don’t really feel the need to get their license.”
Clearly, there are several circumstances that play into the noticeable reduction in student driving at Placer. One’s attainment of a driver’s license is a significant milestone in the final days of youth. However, it is evident that the student parking congestion is less prevalent this school year. Meanwhile, those who have made the effort to obtain their driver’s license can enjoy the current ease of parking on Placer’s campus.