The driving process: Are we there yet?

Catherine Esper and Joshua Farley

When it comes to driving, it’s clear that every person has had their own unique experiences from behind the wheel. For example, everyone remembers the first time they’ve throttled their foot onto the gas, only to send the car and everyone in it lurching forward. After several sessions of practice, some may recall some more pleasant memories, like riding the open country roads on a long sunny summer afternoon or learning a different kind of driving from a grandparent. 

Driving has become an essential part of life for almost every high school student. For that reason, we decided to ask throughout the grades to get the students of Canfield High School’s take on all parts of the driving process. 

Some Freshmen shared their thoughts and ideas about the fairly new driving process. While Freshmen themselves don’t usually drive, many of them are eagerly waiting for the day when they can obtain their learner’s permit and/or license. 

We wanted their thoughts and ideas on this anticipation and also wanted to find out how much they had taught themselves before the big days finally arrived. 

Freshmen Manahil Hassan and Brianna Fishel told us their perspective. With Manahil getting her permit in May and Brianna in September, they both seemed excited and optimistic about their future driving adventures. 

They’ve also expressed feelings of nervousness for their permit test, with Bri stating, “I’ve been waiting my whole life [to drive].” 

Without permits, driving is hard (if not illegal), but that hasn’t stopped these two from starting to learn the basics of the road. 

We gave them a five-question test to see the knowledge they had on the rules of the road. The questions are as follows:

  1. What does this sign [a merge lanes sign] mean?
  2. When there is a crosswalk before a stop sign, how should the stop be conducted?
  3. What directions should you turn your head before turning at a stop sign?
  4. What is the speed limit on state highways?
  5. Name the four major highways in our area.

The freshmen answered two of the five questions right. Considering they’ve never attended a driving school or had experience on the road, they still did better than expected. 

However, there’s quite a difference in knowledge between freshmen and sophomores. 

Sophomore Griffin Littler led us through the process that is taking him to his upcoming driver’s test.

Griffin got his permit over the summer and started driving with his parents. By the end of the summer, he had reached a point where he could begin attending official driving classes. After his twenty-four hours of online instruction, he passed his written test and completed eight hours of driving time with his instructors. 

Littler specifically mentioned the maneuvering course as a challenge but is now ready to take his driving test after many months of preparation. 

Griffin is excited about the new freedom he will gain when he drives, as he will be able to take more advantage of his free time. Griffin is looking forward to touring Canfield and Boardman on the weekends. 

One can wonder what obtaining a license feels like. Juniors Jordan Helmick and Aaron Ferguson were there to tell us.

“You want your license because you get sick of driving with your parents. Being able to drive by yourself is a cool idea,” said Ferguson. 

He got his license in August of 2019 while Jordan got hers earlier that April. 

Even though getting a license is a new exciting freedom, responsibilities heighten due to operating a potentially lethal weapon. 

Helmick explains this by saying, “It can be nerve-wracking when you’re in situations with heavy traffic and making left-hand turns. It’s also difficult to learn to become a defensive driver. You have to watch the other people on the road, not just yourself. This is the biggest difference between having a permit and a license. Your parents can help you avoid challenges on the road with a permit. With a license, you are on your own.”

Completing the requirements to take their driving test is one thing, but dealing with the nerves for the driving test is another.

Both Jordan and Aaron explained their experiences with their driving tests. Aaron says, “You’ve been driving for six months, so the driving part isn’t hard, but you make the test seem so much bigger than it actually is. This is your chance to drive by yourself, and you don’t want to mess it up.” 

Jordan also agrees, saying, “It’s really nerve-wracking leading up to the test. Many tears were shed the morning of the test. You just want to drive so bad because you’ve been practicing for it, and you’re ready, but it’s very nerve-racking.”

Even though these two experienced nerves and pressure before the test, they both got through it. 

The two juniors say their main advice for new drivers is to simply eliminate the nerves and solely focus on the road. Doing this helps make the process much simpler and easier to manage, and they credit comfortability for their success on the days of their driving tests.

If they can do it, then why can’t you? Make sure to practice hard and know your stuff. You’ll get to the end of the process, finding yourself on a whole new road of freedom. All of our sources make it clear: driving is the key to getting the most fun out of your high school experience.