Rookie drivers on the loose


Photo by Nathan Ramirez

Junior Mateo Rios is anxious about operating a vehicle for the first time.

Madeline Springer, Features Writer

When we were kids, our toy cars would tear down plastic tracks. Now, as high schoolers, we’ve moved on to the real thing: learning to drive. 

“I’m a little nervous about driving,” junior Marlene Orantes said. “You have total control over the car and you can’t control the other drivers.” 

According to the CDC, the risk of motor vehicle crashes is highest among teens, with teens being most at risk during the first few months with their license. 

Junior Julie Grossman has been driving for a year now and has obtained her license. 

“You should drive whenever you’re allowed to and get as much practice as you can because the more you practice, the more comfortable you become,” she said. 

Grossman’s attitude towards driving has changed with experience. “I’m less nervous than when I started learning, but it’s still nerve wracking,” she said.

In order to get your license, you must first get your learner’s permit from the Maryland Vehicle Association (MVA). The online test consists of 25 multiple choice questions, and requires a score of 80% to pass. You can apply for a permit at age 15 and 9 months. 

“The test wasn’t that hard, but some of the questions were phrased weirdly,” sophomore Brian Gredder said. “I had to take it twice to pass.”

After acquiring a permit, students must take a Driver’s Education class, log at least 60 hours of driving practice, take three in person driving classes and pass the driving skills test. 

“I practiced in Montgomery College’s empty parking lot a few times a week,” Grossman said. “My mom would teach me and I took Driver’s Ed with IDriveSmart.” 

Learning to drive can be difficult. Most new drivers struggle with different skills, but it seems that most students find parking challenging. 

“I struggled with parking the most,” said Gredder. “It’s hard because you can’t see the lines; you really have to get a feel for it.” 

Parallel parking in particular is a source of strife for many rookie drivers. “I had to practice it over and over again with cones,” Grossman said. “I’ve only been able to parallel park once.”

In regards to the written test, both Gredder and Grossman have some tips. “I read the manuals over and over,” said Grossman. “I also downloaded an app called Maryland Practice Driving Test. They have practice tests and it was really helpful.” 

Gredder emphasized the importance of paying attention during Driver’s Ed class. “I used some Quizlets I found online. As long as you listened to Driver’s Ed, it’s not that difficult,” he said.

While driving can be difficult, students believe it to be ultimately very rewarding. “You can get places easier with your own car. There’s no more waiting for transportation and you gain more independence,” Orantes said.

Additionally, many teens find driving alone very freeing. “Playing music in the car is the best,” Gredder said.