Whenever I go to a family party or reunion, I receive the same comment and question, “You’ve gotten so big!” and “Are you driving yet?”
To the latter, I always give one response: “No, I haven’t.”
I turned 16 in October, and while I have been eligible to start the process of obtaining my driver’s license since April, I haven’t even looked into it. It’s not that I’m lazy and don’t want to do all the setup — I’m just not compelled to drive.
I’ve never had the urge to go out and drive around, unlike some of my friends — or even my mom. She always explains to me that her driver’s license expires on her birthday because she was “at the DMV the morning she turned 16.”
I’ve never had a bad experience driving; I’ve never been in a crash or witnessed one. In fact, car rides are some of my favorite memories. Last spring, my mom and I drove from Vermont to Maine. It was nothing crazy but still a great memory. Although I slept through most of the trip, just sitting there, listening to music and watching the scenery go by was amazing.
I loved the movie “Cars,” but this never morphed into an interest in driving. And despite loving the Hot Wheels toys and having a huge collection, I never developed a major car interest. I know plenty of people who live and breathe cars, but as with driving, I have no interest in real cars; I just liked the toys.
I don’t need to drive anywhere except school. I can just ride my bike everywhere else.
I’m not the only person my age who hasn’t started driving. For some of my friends, it boils down to laziness — not wanting to set up the appointments or take the tests — and others are in the same spot as me, with no “drive” to begin the process. That being said, I don’t want to be the guy who is 30 and still doesn’t know how to drive, so I’m telling myself to get my license before college. Maybe.
With Uber and Lyft, it’s becoming less and less necessary to know how to drive. But those services can be very expensive. I don’t want to rely on Uber my whole life.
My lack of interest has brought me to a point that, soon, my mom is going to force me to get my license. I live near an almost-always-empty parking lot, so I am dreading the day that my mom tells me that we’re going to start practicing.
This is different for some of my friends. Rather than encouraging them to drive, their parents want them to stay off the road at all costs, either in fear of their child’s safety or because of the extra cost.
For some people, another problem is their lack of a car. My mom told me that I could use hers whenever I needed, and we have an old Saab sitting in our garage — but that isn’t even close to working. Some kids get cars from their parents, others have to work for them, while some have no chance of getting a car in high school. I’m too nervous to be in charge of driving a car. To be honest, I’d probably wreck it, and I don’t want that on my conscience.
One instance in which I may want my license — and it’s not super-plausible — is in an emergency and I need to drive somewhere. But when would that ever happen (knock on wood)?
Don’t get me wrong — knowing how to drive is important. You can’t always depend on apps or other people. So will I get my driver’s license? Yes. When? I’m not sure, but probably soon.
—By Miles Morrow
Originally published in the Feb. 4 edition of the Octagon.