Driving Dandy or Dangerously?

By August Kissel and Julia Skeval


It’s been 17 years in the making. You’ve survived a permit test, hours of hearing your parents nag and bark out directions and corrections about your driving from the passenger seat, and lastly, the dreaded road test. Finally, you hold that thin piece of plastic in your hand, look over your messy signature and the picture no one is ever happy with. You are a licensed driver. Now to see if it all was worth it.


Jamesville-DeWitt High School junior, Jack Davis, had a rough start to driving. In March of sophomore year, only weeks after getting his permit, Davis crashed into a stop sign, damaging the sign and denting the front bumper of his mother’s car. “I didn’t turn enough,” Davis said. “There was ice on the road and before I could brake, the car hit the stop sign.”


For a while after the incident, Davis’s mother was wary about letting him get behind the wheel again. “It took a few weeks but I was allowed to drive again and I haven’t hit anything since.”


After months of learning the ropes, restrictions and fulfilling the 50 hours of practice, permit holders are elidgible to take their road test. When a student passes their test and is finally a licensed driver, the first thing any high schooler wants to do is drive to school; no more riding the big yellow school bus.


According to New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, any New York State resident becomes eligible for their learner’s permit at age 16. “Once you have a learner permit, you must have supervised driving practice and take a pre-licensing course or a driver education course before you take your road test,” says the DMV website.  (http://dmv.ny.gov/node/2015)


Passing a driver’s test proves to be just as hard as driving on a busy street for the first time. Common questions passing through the hallways are: does it really matter where you take your test? Does the location effect passing rate?


“I failed my test once in Syracuse,” said senior Brooke LaFlair; “everyone fails in Syracuse.” Senior Samantha Jaffe agrees, having failed her test in Syracuse due to hitting the curb as she parallel parked. Juniors Ross Devitto and Jordan Vanstry also failed once in Syracuse, retaking and passing their second attempts in Fulton and Chittenango.


However, Syracuse proved to be a perfectly fine course for juniors Michael Schwedes and Luke Mannion. “I got a perfect score in Syracuse,” said Schwedes, who only had to take his test once. Others tried to avoid Syracuse at all costs from the beginning. Junior Julia Kronenburg passed on her first try in Cortland and Dan Becker passed once in Oneida.


Once you’ve passed and have met all of the neccessary requirements, the only hard part is convincing Mom and Dad.


“My parents make me drive my brother to school and I have to pay for my own gas,” said junior Connor Hylwa. Kronenburg and Junior Lauren Spicer also are allowed to drive as long as they pay for gas and for the upkeep of their car.  “My dad told me I could drive as long as I didn’t go crazy with the car,” said Vanstry


After you get your license, all you need is a car to be waiting for you in your driveway upon your arrival home. What’s a license without a car anyways?


The cars filling up the students parking lots range across all brands, and all conditions. Some are brand new, others are hand-me-downs from the 1990s. Some are fuel efficient, others are gas guzzlers. But as many students will tell you, a car is a car; it’ll work just fine for them.


Kronenburg drives an older Toyota Carolla, Schwedes drives a 2014 Ford Fusion, senior Samantha Jaffe has a Lexus and La Flair shares a Honda Odyssey between her parents, “it’s called the Mom-Van between my friends. It’s kind of funny pulling into the parking lot with a minivan.”

In order to be able to park in one of the two student parking lots at the high school, J-DHS students must be in at least their junior year of school, have a driver’s license and have completed either a five hour pre-licensing course or the Alive at Twenty-Five class - both of which are offered at the school. Seniors are given the luxury of the upper parking lot while juniors are assigned spaces in the lot closer to the Main Gym parking lot, having to make the trek up the sidewalk, which many say feels even longer in the winter months.