The Reality of Being a Student Driver

To find out whether having your license in high school is really all that useful, I interviewed 13 high school students who decided to get their G1s and G2s. With all that goes on in students’ lives, should driving be a priority?

Students without a license tend to depend on either parents or the public transit system. Both of these methods of transport have downsides, however. When you need your parents to drive you it makes you dependent on their availability, like when they’re off work. If you needed a ride in the middle of the day, chances are your parents can’t help.

With the city bus, there are also several downsides. Bus fare costs $3.25, or $2.40 for reduced tickets, which quickly adds up with frequent travel. The GRT bus routes also don’t cover the entire Kitchener-Waterloo area, meaning you may need to do a fair bit of walking in addition to your lengthy bus ride. Buses also run on schedules, which don’t always align with personal schedules. Alternatively, buses don’t always run on time, which makes aligning a bus schedule with your own schedule even harder. All in all, getting around can be a major hassle when you have to rely on other people, which is why many WCI have decided to get their driver’s licenses.

Students with their G1s admit that this low-level license doesn’t give them much more freedom than no license at all. With the G1 comes many restrictions, such as requiring the G1 driver to have a fully licensed driver (such as a parent) with them in the car at all times. This results in G1 holders driving very infrequently; “once every two months”, “once or twice a week”, “two to three times a week”, “once a week at most”, or “once every two weeks”. Because a fully licensed driver is required for G1 drivers to drive, these students tend to use driving as a method of practice for their G2 test, rather than a way of getting around.

For students with their G2, however, it’s a completely different story. These drivers drive nearly every day or every day that they have access to the family car. With a G2 you no longer need a fully licensed driver to accompany you on your daily drives, which creates a greater freedom. Students with their G2 can drive themselves to school, work, and extracurriculars without coordinating with a bus schedule or parents availability.

High school students agree that financing driving is incredibly difficult without a job or parental financial support, or both. With driving comes the cost of the car, gas, insurance, and more. Student drivers at WCI tend to drive their parents’ cars, simply because it’s far too expensive to buy their own car at this age. As for who pays for gas, it seems to be 50/50. Some students have an agreement with their parents, like “whoever empties it, fills it”, while others rely on their parents to cover gas costs. Many students cover gas costs “with money [they] earn from working”, but some students “never drive so much where [they’d] need to go refill.”

Students, regardless of the level of license they have, all said that getting your license is a worthwhile experience. Working to get your license and driving teaches lots of valuable skills like money-management and confidence, but most importantly it teaches responsibility. Students all say they are glad they got their license because they learned more than just how to drive. And while getting your G1 may seem like a waste of money and time, “in the long run it will be worth it.”

So if you don’t have your license now, you may want to consider saving up and studying now. You never know when it might come in handy.