Learning to Drive During Covid Times

Teens are still learning how to drive, it’s just different these days.

Covid-19 has postponed events all around the world from movie releases to school openings. And the list of the things that should’ve happened during the time in which the pandemic has gone on is long and ranges in many aspects. But are teens still aiming for that age-old rite of passage: learning how to drive?

For some high school students a big part of their last two years in school is learning how to drive in preparation for eventually a road test granting kids all over the states their drivers licenses. This is not only an exciting milestone and responsibility that teens get to take on, but it is something that most people pre-pandemic didn’t have to question as much. This year, things are a little different as Covid-19 created a reason for restriction in terms of time, availability, and flexibility of the DMV. 

With a sort of Covid-coma affecting the motivation of people everywhere, kids have still found a way to work with the circumstances and maintain motivation for one thing-driving, “probably because it keeps the hope of eventually getting out of the house alive” Bianca Cavounis says, a Queens bound high school junior.

Bianca explained how the opportunity of freedom that comes with driving kept her focused on getting her permit. She didn’t want one more thing to stop because of Covid, neither did Sophia Tolli or Marisa Dattolo.

Sophia mentioned how being a part of the graduating class of 2020 (last school year) forced her to deal with the postponement of event upon event, including driving. She is a college freshman this year and explains how she planned to take her road test at the end of her senior year of high school but wasn’t able to as restrictions were tighter at the DMV around that time and appointments were limited.

“Covid definitely slowed down my process. Practicing wasn’t an option in my house, we couldn’t go anywhere and the car just kind of sat in the driveway but I was so excited to be able to drive on my own, especially after the way last school year ended,” Sophia said.

Limitations and excess time haven’t only furthered the desire to drive, but have also allowed for more time to actually practice driving.

Marisa Dattolo agrees.

“I got my permit over the summer and I was so excited to start driving. During this time I had more time to focus on learning how to drive because I had nothing else to do. I am so concentrated and committed to it,” she said. 

Driving for many can be an escape from so many things. An escape from being home, online learning, and the fear that hangs over the heads of those affected by the pandemic.

“Driving helped me get away from the negative things around me for a while. Plus, I got to spend more time with my parents, they are teaching me how to drive,” Marisa adds.

Learning how to drive has not only been a good distraction for teens, but has given them something to look forward to. Driving is something you can do in an enclosed space, keeping distance from those not living in your home, but still allowing you to get out of the house. It is a getaway from the daily awareness of the pandemic and mundanity of learning, eating, and sleeping all in the same environment, all the while still keeping people safe.

— by Maya Cavounis ’21