Teens take the wheel


photo by Jessica Gallo

Junior Emma Ash perfects her parking when she arrives at school in the morning. She is among the first students at school, usually ariving at 7:30 a.m.

Jessica Gallo, Reporter

When junior Emma Ash drove to school by herself for the first time, she felt a whirlwind of emotions. She was scared about merging on the highway, but felt exhilarated as she tried out her new skill independently in her daily routine for the first time.

Learning to drive is something most kids, including Ash, look forward to for years. Teenage driving comes with lots of nerves from teens and their parents, but brings an important life skill and sense of independence to teenagers in their everyday lives.

Jewish text department chair and CESJDS parent Aviva Gershman supports students learning to drive and being able to drive themselves to school. However, she believes it is important for students to keep their parents and driving instructors involved in the process of learning the rules of the road and helping them determine what works for them as new drivers.

“I absolutely support students driving themselves to school the way I would any other life skill,” Gershman said. “You have a combination of teachers who teach you these skills and your parents who have a sense of what you can handle, when you can handle it and what’s good for you.”

Gershman feels that her fears are as any parents would be when letting her son drive alone.

“What if they don’t see a stop sign? What if they are going a little too quickly and hit somebody?” Gershman said.

JDS allows students to drive to school themselves to school as long as they follow the parking policy. In order to park in the school lot, students must have a parking tag that they receive upon submitting a form registering themselves with the school with their license and car details. Students must have the tag in their car when it is parked in the lot and are expected to be smart, safe drivers in the parking lot.

“We expect students to drive safely, carefully, slowly [because] there are a lot of students walking around, even young children oftentimes,” Dean of Students Roslyn Landy said.

Having a driver’s license gives students a new type of independence to go where they please. It also gives them time to themselves to listen to music and relax before and after a long day.

“I really don’t enjoy driving, but I think it’s something that gives me so much independence and freedom,” Ash said. “I love listening to music and spending time with myself, even though it [driving] is really annoying.”

Maryland law requires all new drivers to take a drivers education class consisting of 10 three-hour sessions to receive their learner’s permit anytime after 15 and nine months and then complete three two-hour behind-the-wheel sessions as part of the driver’s education course. The driver must also log at least 60 hours of supervised driving upon receiving their permit. Once the driver has had their permit for at least nine months, they are allowed to take the test to receive their provisional license.

When teens start the process, they sometimes worry about driving without their parents, like sophomore Maya Arie. She has had her learner’s permit for a month and is a bit apprehensive about driving without her parents when she gets her driver’s license.

“[I am worried about driving alone] because my parents are with me a lot and help me with directions, like what to do when other cars are approaching and that kind of thing,” Arie said.

But as Ash learned, as scary as it is getting into a small car accident, it isn’t the end of the world, especially if there are no injuries and the damage is as minor as a license plate.

“I have gotten in an accident,” Ash said. “I was terrified for a little while, but I got over it and I’m more careful now and it helped me grow as a driver.”

While Gershman thinks that driving can be beneficial to both teens and their families, she knows that sometimes waiting until you are ready is best. According to Gershman, getting a drivers license shouldn’t be a competition with peers, but rather something that a teen learns when they are ready.

“Just like any other life skill, the opportunity to drive and get your license isn’t going anywhere,” Gershman said. “If you don’t feel like you’re ready, wait. It’s not a race you need to be in with your fellow students.”

This story was featured in the Volume 36, Issue 5 print edition of The Lion’s Tale, published on March 15, 2019.