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Recent studies show a decline in teen drivers (PODCAST)

TeenDrivers1
[/media-credit] In recent years, the number of teenagers getting their licenses has steadily dropped. Less than half of teenagers obtain a license within a year of the eligible age.
In recent years, the number of teenagers getting their licenses has steadily dropped. Less than half of teenagers obtain a license within a year of the eligible age. Only 70 percent of 19-year-olds have their licenses now, as opposed to the 87 percent in 1983.

While researchers try to determine what is behind this fall, some say it is the rising cost of sitting behind the wheel. As time goes on, prices only grow. Insurance, gas and repair prices have inflated to a price that many high schoolers cannot pull out-of-pocket.

Due to costs, many students are only moved to get their license if it is a necessity. One example of a high school student waiting to get her license is senior Annaleah Madison.

“I’ve waited [to get my license] because I’ve never needed it,” Madison said. “My parents drive me everywhere, and all my friends drive so I’ve just never needed it. And also I don’t have to pay for insurance and the car because I don’t have cash to do that. But now, because I’m babysitting, I need to get one.”

Another factor is the risk of earning a traffic ticket. Every year, the price of traffic tickets go up. As the price of tickets goes up, so do the number of citations issued.

Although the base fines seem reasonable, fees are hiked up with penalties which can bring the total price up by four or five times the original amount. The penalties include anything from DNA identification to county penalty assessments. Thanks to these extra fines, a ticket with a base price of $100 can cost over $500.

An option for ticketed drivers to consider is traffic violator school. By attending traffic school one may cut down their ticket price and erase the misdemeanor from their driving record. On the other hand, traffic school comes with a fee and requires time.

Another consideration is insurance. Even the most responsible teenage driver has a much higher rate of insurance than an adult, simply because of their age. After receiving a ticket, insurance prices shoot up even more. Edith Tarra, employee at Traffic Depot, pinpoints insurance as the biggest reason to enroll in traffic school.

“Easily the number one reason high school students enroll in traffic school is to keep their insurance rate from going up,” Tarra said.

Apart from lowering ticket price and reducing insurance rates, many people question whether traffic violator school is actually beneficial to the driver. Although most view the class as a simple way out of a giant fee, Tarra believes that the course is helpful to drivers (especially high school students).

“Most people get their licenses and start driving and forget what they learned.” Tarra said. “Traffic school is like a refreshment course that helps get rid of those bad habits. During the course, high schoolers can be around lots of other kids their age who also received a ticket, and they can all share their experiences.”

Although the number of students getting their licenses has dropped, those that do rarely regret it. For junior Breanna Jennings the pros of holding a license outweigh the cons.

(PODCAST) Tips for teen drivers with Chloe Mueller: Oct. 23, 2013

“I wanted the freedom of driving myself around without my parents,” Jennings said. “So that I could go the places I want. My dad pays for insurance, but it’s worth it, because sometimes my parents are busy and they don’t get to drive me.”

As for the dangers of the road, Jennings offers the simple advice for being safe on the road. As a student, she is cautious of the dangers of other drivers.

“Follow the law,” Jennings said. “Just be careful. Know that there are people out there that aren’t careful.”

This author can be reached via Twitter: @_chloemueller.

For more features, read the Oct. 23 article, Yearbook staff travels to Jostens, tours factory.

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