When highschool students watch teenage movies like “Teen Wolf” or “To All The Boys I Loved Before,” they see the characters drive to and from school, picking up their friends and enjoying many adventures together. Many high school students dream of driving a car, and due to the COVID-19 pandemic some Bonita Vista High (BVH) students have been motivated to get their permit or driver’s license. This is not because they want to live out their fantasy but because they have more responsibilities. Meanwhile, other students are hesitant to get their driver’s license during the pandemic.
Junior Samantha Bianes, for instance, felt “excited” to drive before the pandemic because she thought it would make her feel more grown up and have more freedom. In addition, she was influenced by the media’s portrayal of driving as something “cool.”
“Driving a car has turned into a rite of passage, meaning that we all want to learn to drive because in our favorite TV shows, movies and books, teens are constantly gawking about driving and how it gives them a sense of liberty. I was excited because it would mean I would gain a sense of independence, and it’s like a milestone,” Bianes said.
Bianes explains that during the pandemic, she has lost motivation overall—whether it be in academics or getting her driver’s license. Also, she has been “swamped” with her extracurriculars and school work, which is her current priority.
“The pandemic has left a lot of people with either an increase in workload or a decrease in motivation. It can be hard to do something you’re not used to or not good at yet and enjoy it,” Bianes said.
On the other hand, some students never wanted to drive, despite the pandemic. Junior Lourdes Castruita shared that the pandemic hasn’t affected her decision of whether to drive or not. She has always known that when she is able to drive, it would represent a step towards adulthood, which is why she’s hesitant to acquire a license.
“I just don’t need [a driver’s license] since my parents can drive me around. I feel like if I get my license, it will signify myself growing up, and I don’t want that [responsibility],” Castruita said.
Sophomore Naftaly Illegas said that she has been scared of driving and was not excited to get behind the wheel. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced her to take on the responsibility of getting her driver’s permit.
“[The pandemic] actually made me gain motivation to get [my permit]. I am the oldest out of all my siblings, and my dad is a single father. It is hard for him to drive us places. He leaves for work and in case of an emergency, there is no one that can drive. That is why I need to learn,” Illegas said.
Castruita believes that some students are opting not to get their license or permit because they don’t see a need in obtaining them during the pandemic. Like many other students, she is not going out as often, so she does not see the point in getting her permit.
“Maybe some people feel unsafe learning how to drive without someone else. Due to the pandemic, students are no longer driving with their friends for safety reasons. They also might feel like they don’t need it because they are not going anywhere,” Castruita said.
In addition, Illegas said that if she did not have the responsibility of taking care of her siblings, she would not want to get a driver’s license. She also mentioned that getting her permit before the pandemic would have been faster.
“Before the pandemic, my dad was going to sign me up for a program to learn how to drive. However, right now it is closed down, so it is taking me more time,” Illegas said.
During the pandemic, getting a driver’s license or permit has become a necessity to some people and less of a priority to others. In the end, Bianes, Castruita and Illegas are going to get their licenses, just not at the same time.
“Each person has their reasons for getting their driver’s license. Some people are unmotivated because they feel like the pandemic is going to be longer and there is no use for them [and then] there are people who are more motivated, like myself. Whichever [choice] is completely fine. When they know they want it or need it, they will get it,” Illegas said.