As a junior in high school, my life is busy. Between balancing academics, extracurriculars, sports, piano lessons, prepping for the SAT, the college process and a social life, I barely have a minute to spare, much less 30 hours; however, it seems like the state of Connecticut feels differently. Getting your license is an exciting right of passage that most people look forward to, but in my personal experience, I have found the process to be extremely tedious and time-consuming. As someone who is currently trying to complete the 30 hours of required in class and behind the wheel lessons, I have come to the conclusion that the entire process could be condensed in half — making the experience much better for everyone involved.
I know what you’re thinking. I know that there are alternatives to taking the 30 hour class. One could, for example, take an eight hour course or even wait until they’re 18 and bypass Drivers Ed all together. Despite these options, many people gravitate towards the 30 hour course because of the included benefits such as an insurance discount, preferred testing locations and, of course, a more in-depth version of the curriculum. Before I get into the details about why I think 30 hours of Drivers Ed is excessive, I want to clarify a few things. First, I understand that there are rules for a reason. I recognize that a driver’s license is a privilege, not a right. Furthermore, I realize the importance of learning the rules of the road in order to ensure my own safety, as well as everyone else’s.
Finally, I know that your experience with Driver’s Ed varies depending on which company you choose to take the classes through, so it is possible that your experience was or will be different than mine. The company that I take my classes through breaks up the 30 hours into 15 two hour classes. Out of the 15 classes, only about half of them are useful. I understand the value in attending many of the classes such as “Road Signs and Traffic Patterns” or “Alcohol and Drug Rules and Restrictions.” What I don’t understand is why I had to spend two hours last Thursday night “learning” about the dangers of driving when I “have a lot on my mind.” First, find me a teenager who doesn’t have a lot on their mind.
Second, considering the fact that my driving teacher seemed so concerned with my stress impacting my driving, I found it ironic that my stress level would’ve been alleviated significantly if I could have, in fact, been home, studying for my APUSH test. How is my stress level going to impact my ability to navigate through an intersection, to merge onto the highway, to drive the speed limit or to parallel park? I know that sometimes in life you have to do things that you don’t want to do. I also know that nothing in life is handed to you: if you want something (like your driver’s license), you have to work for it. That being said, I still think a lot of the information we learn in Driver’s Ed simply isn’t useful. I also feel like a lot of the class time isn’t productive. For example, at the beginning of every class the teacher has a ‘warm-up’ prepared that usually involves a word search or a group activity. I don’t know about the rest of the people in the class but personally, I didn’t sign up for Driver’s Ed as a social outlet. I give the teachers credit because I know they are trying to make the boring process more engaging but I would rather skip the pointless warm up if it meant getting out of class faster.
An additional example of why class time isn’t productive happened during the class regarding Alcohol and Drugs. We spent the majority of the class watching five videos, all of teen car crashes caused by substance abuse. I think the intention was that if we watched the videos enough times, the message would sink in.
Let me assure you that the message was received after the first depressing and graphic video. If we had simply watched one of the videos instead of five, we could have saved a solid hour of valuable class time. Another one of the main reasons why I begrudge going to Drivers Ed is that, like most KO students, I constantly have a lot of homework. I am sure you can imagine my excitement when my driving instructor decided to assign me driving homework too. The homework consists of a thorough review of the most basic rules. While it is necessary to reinforce the fundamentals, I don’t see the value in reviewing such self explanatory concepts such as stop signs.