Opinion: The rules of the road

Evan Elsasser, Staff Writer

For many teens, their 16th birthday is the one they look forward to most. Most people cannot wait to get behind the wheel and take control of their own lives, but before they can take on the roads alone, there are many hoops to jump through.

In Hawaii, at the age of 15 years and six months, a person is eligible to get a permit by simply answering 24 questions about the rules of the road correctly. However, to get a license, the process is much more intensive.

The number of things someone must complete in order to qualify for their license in Maui is too much, and even though they are all for the safety of the person and those around them, I think it is overbearing. Drivers ed, behind the wheel hours (alone and with a certified driver), written tests, and the feared behind the wheel test are just some of the vast prerequisites necessary in the county for someone to be even considered for his or her license.

As an almost 15 and a half year old, I have been going through the driver’s education process, and personally, I think it is too much stress, too much time away from doing things I love, and too much time spent in a classroom after spending 40 hours in one at school.

Every Saturday for five weeks from from 2:00 PM to 8:00 PM, I sit in a classroom at the Queen Kaahumanu Mall barely awake. I half listen to my teacher go on and on about stuff that most people already know, or things that are common sense. Let’s just say, I am not a fan of the 30-hour classroom minimum the county of Maui has declared necessary if a person wishes to obtain their license.

I actually agree with the age requirements for getting your permit and license; I feel that 15 and a half and 16 are good ages for people to take on this big responsibility.

Even when a person does get their license, they have to wait a whole year before they can drive more than one person. This is another prerequisite that is for the safety of the person and the people around them, but I think it is too long to wait.

Along with the 30 hours of driver’s ed, a driver must also complete six hours of behind the wheel training with their driver’s ed teacher, and 40 hours of behind the wheel training with an adult over the age of 21. Do not get me wrong, driving is a huge responsibility that should not be taken lightly, but these requirements just seem ludicrous. Is it really necessary to spend 76 plus hours fulfilling many of these needless prerequisites?

These driving rules are not all over the nation. For example, in South Dakota a teen is allowed to drive at 14 years, 6 months. To me, this seems too young. A person is not ready for that sort of power and authority at such a young age.

In most places around the world, a teen hoping to receive his or her permit and/or license must take a written test and a behind the wheel driving test. The permit test in Maui is 30 questions long, but you only have to get 24 right, which seems totally fair to me. In the behind the wheel test, a driver is allowed 30 points off of their test, anymore mistakes and you fail and can retry in two weeks.

Overall, the hours a teen under the age of 18 must put in to get their permit or license is too intense, but that definitely will not stop me from being in line at the DMV as soon as I turn 15 and a half.