Friday, July 02, 2010

Fewer Teens Driving

I guess this is a good thing. The Fresno Bee reports that the percentage of Californians getting licenses at age 16 and 17 dropped from 31% in 1996 to 19% last year.

It does kind of surprise me. I was quite eager to get my driver's license as I approached 16. Failed my first driving test, though, by driving through a blind intersection without slowing down to 25mph. How humiliating.

I'm also curious about the article's references to parents driving their kids to school. How many parents drive their kids to school nowadays? When I was in junior high, I walked to school. I believe it was around a two mile walk one way and took about 40 minutes. I thought nothing of it at the time, but it did get kind of rough with the 20 foot snowdrifts I had to fight my way through in the winter time.


At 8:10 AM, Blogger AJ said...

A significant number of parents drive their kids at the elementary level. What percentage? I don't know.

A few reasons for lower bus usage might be… the bus pick-up or drop-off time is inconvenient or unsafe (neighborhood issues), in lower grades parents must accompany their child to and from the bus stop, the parent drops off their child on the way to work (parents sometimes choose a school near their workplace), the parent dislikes the bus environment (less supervision = worse language/conduct), or the child has after-school activities that necessitate driving due to time or distance constraints.

Given the number of school closures and reconfigurations, I'll wager that bus routes have expanded over the past couple decades, making the pick-up times earlier and the drop-off times later. Would you want to send your kid on the bus if you have to get him ready extra early every morning for the privilege of sitting on the bus for an entire hour? And, in many cities, school districts charge for bus usage. My own school in the valley began charging in the mid-1980s.

Bus riding quickly becomes open for debate because it's not necessarily the most convenient option.

At 8:14 AM, Blogger AJ said...

Fred, I see I ignored your walking comment. Certainly kids living near schools walk, but I suspect parental perception of appropriate walking distances has changed over time. For many of the bus reasons cited above, kids get driven today. I suspect the biggest reason is after-school activities that will be missed if the child walks.

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Fred said...

I only recall taking a bus to school two different times as a kid. One was when we moved to Irvine,CA. University High School (almost next to UCI) wasn't quite ready to open yet so UHS students did half- session at Mission Viejo High School. I believe that was a 20 or 30 minute drive on the freeway, or so it seemed.

That was a real hassle and I recall some of us often hitchhiked to and from school rather than deal with the bus.

The other was when we lived in Mexico and I was going to the American School. Seems to me the bus would pick you up in front of your house back then, if memory serves me.

An adult had to be present for them to drop you off, though, and I remember one time coming home and the driver wouldn't let me out because our maid wasn't there waiting. I screamed and yelled that, if he'd just let me get out and press the buzzer on the gate, she'd come right out. He'd have none of that.

He took me all the way back to school and I had to wait in the school office for what seemed like hours for my parents to come get me.

Hated that.


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