When I was younger, I distinctly remember my dad nagging my older sister to get her driver’s license while she was in high school. Despite his constant nagging, my sister did not end up getting her driver’s license until she was a sophomore in college. When it came my time to get my license, I also procrastinated. In my home state of Ohio, you are eligible to get your driver’s license at the age of 16. I ended up getting mine at 18, partly due to delays from COVID-19 and my own anxieties when it came to driving.
Many people my age originally intended to get their licenses before the pandemic started, but still haven’t gotten around to it. Others are victims of severe anxiety when it comes to driving and potential car crashes. According to a Washington Post article titled, “I’ll call an Uber or 911’: Why Gen Z doesn’t want to drive,” “In 1997, almost 90 percent of 20-25-year-olds had licenses; in 2020, it was only 80 percent.” Although the COVID-19 pandemic was a contributing factor in this decrease, many of my peers cited a plethora of other reasons for not getting their driver’s licenses.
A 19-year-old college student, Yzabel Manimtim, admits that getting behind the wheel is frightening for her. “I have a general fear of driving. Car crash deaths have almost been normalized and any of those cases could be me.” This fear of driving can be explained by Manimtim’s cultural background. “I chronically lack street smarts being a semi-sheltered daughter of immigrants, so none of the ‘common sense’ associated with driving comes to me.” With other Gen Z-ers, reasons for not getting driver’s licenses may just boil down to a busy schedule. Although an 18-year-old college student, who wishes to remain anonymous, explained that he does have terrible driving anxiety, he originally planned to get his license years ago. “I’ve wanted to get my license since forever. I’ve just never gotten around to it because I’ve been busy. And honestly, because I don’t really like driving,” he says.
As rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft have grown in popularity over the past few years, Gen Z-ers seemingly have no reason to get their licenses anymore. Rather opting to hitch a ride with a stranger for an ever-changing price.
Although driving anxiety is a completely valid reason for not getting your license, I can guarantee that a majority of current drivers have those same anxieties. I know I still have driving anxiety sometimes. With every new skill that you learn, you are bound to have some misgivings about it. It all comes down to an age-old phrase: Practice makes perfect. Get out on the road with a parent or guardian and start driving, it isn’t as scary as you might think it is.
By Amaar Zarrieff, Freshman, Howard University