Viking Saga

Driving, Freedom, and Turning Sixteen

From permit to license, the liberty of climbing behind the wheel

Kennedy Holsapple

You turn 16. You’ve studied for the permit test, and you feel prepared. You step into the DMV and take a deep breath. You can feel your heart beating as you take the test. The score comes back, and you passed! Soon after you get your permit. But what happens next? There are two ways to go— take the driver’s
education course or have a parent or guardian teach you.
“I took classes from Eyes on the Road because I thought it was a lot easier. You get to have the instructor for driving, you get your license two months faster, and the insurance is cheaper,” said junior Ben Grant,
who got his license this February. Taking classes through a driving school takes four months as opposed to the six months it takes to be parent-taught.

Eyes on the Road is a driving school located in Norwich and East Lyme. To take the license test, the student must complete 15 two-hour classes about road laws and safety, including drug and alcohol safety classes. The student also drives with an instructor for four classes of two hours.
“The in-car driving practice was super important for me. Having expert help was very helpful,” said junior Kristia King, who got her license in November at APC driving school in Old Lyme. During the in-car lesson, the student drives around local roads and neighboring towns with the instructor. The instructor answers questions, teaches techniques, and gives reminders about safe driving.

“I’ll probably be scared the first time I drive by myself when I have my actual license, because if I have a question I can’t ask anyone,” said sophomore Kayleigh Jensen, who got her permit in November.
There’s a lot to learn about driving, but the classes provide knowledge that helps the student feel confident on the roads.
“I was so nervous [for the license test]. I knew I could drive, but I was so worried about backing into a parking space,” said King. She passed. Now, she can drive herself wherever she wants. After she has her license for a year, she’ll be able to drive anyone.

“It feels like an entirely new sense of freedom, because you don’t have to ask your parents every time you want to go somewhere,” said Grant. Driving provides lots of new options for students, and allows
them to be more independent. “The first times she’s on the road, it’s a little nerve-racking. [Our road is] very narrow, and letting your child do this, it’s a big step,” said Ms. Robin Jensen, Kayleigh’s mother.
Starting out is tricky for both the student and parent. The trust between the driver and the passenger must be strong to have a successful ride.
“You’re used to having your parents drive you everywhere, but now you’re in control of this thing that could hurt someone,” said Jensen. Driving safely takes time and focus; it’s not something that can be achieved with
minimal practice.
“Study for the permit test. Don’t just do the practice questions. And don’t drive alone unless you’re fully confident,” said King.

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