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Roving Teen Reporter:
Which Wheels?
Sammy Hallal | Torrey Pines High School Senior

For many teenagers getting a driver’s license is almost like a rite of passage, bringing with it a new sense of independence, freedom and responsibility. Many teens, like I did, count down the days till they turn 16 so they can finally obtain their license. Some, however, still do hold off on learning how to drive, choosing to utilize alternative methods of transport instead.

“Before I got my license I missed out on plans with friends and sometimes waited an hour after school before my parents could pick me up,” Deriot, a student at Torrey Pines High School said. “Now I can drive myself to my extracurriculars, school and hang-outs with friends. I even went out and got a job since finding rides back-and-forth from work was no longer a barrier.”

Though many teenagers do get their licenses as soon as they can, it is becoming increasingly common for young people to pump the brakes on applying for a license. A 2010 study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found that the number of high school seniors who applied for a driver’s license in 1996 dropped from 85 to 73 percent.

“Even though there is pressure from my peers to learn how to drive, I really feel no need to,” Garvey, a senior at Canyon Crest Academy said. “Between my parents, public transport, friends who drive and services like Uber and Lyft, it’s not hard to find rides.”

As a student at Torrey Pines High School, I see several Ubers and Lyfts lined up to pick up students after school almost daily. The ride-hailing apps, even though they have rules against people under 18 riding without an adult, are very popular with teenagers. Even teenagers who can drive themselves often use the apps to get home when going out late at night for added safety.

“I probably take 2 to 3 Ubers a week,” Abu-Khalaf, a junior at Francis Parker High School said. “I don’t think I have ever been on public transport like the bus before. There aren’t really any bus stops near me and it’s just not as quick or convenient as driving myself or using Uber.”

As gas prices have dropped and ride-haling apps have gained popularity, the appeal of buses has decreased in nearly every city in the United States. San Diego City’s Climate Action Plan predicted that 12 percent of residents near bus stops would stop taking the trolley or bus to work by 2020, tripling their 2010 estimate. The decline in passengers has led to a decline in the ticket-sale revenue of transit operations like the Metropolitan Transit System.

Whether it’s driving themselves, riding with their parents or using other methods of transport, teenagers have multiple ways to go from point A to point B. There are a handful of methods to get around literally at our fingertips and getting around is only getting more convenient.



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