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Student drivers find difficulty in license process

As the DMV has been intermittently closing due to COVID-19, many Bruins looking to get their license or permit are finding it difficult to complete the process. Photo by Sara Tate

Dealing with the DMV has always been a struggle but a predictable obstacle; however, due to COVID-19, Bruins attempting to get their license or permit are having difficulty scheduling appointments. 

California Teen Drivers have three primary steps to earning their license. First, they need to obtain their permit by taking an online or in-person driving course followed by a written test to obtain your permit. Next, complete the three two-hour sessions behind the wheel with a certified instructor. Finally, students must pass the infamous driving test to obtain your license. 

Counselor Cindy Henry Grimm shed some light on possible challenges facing students at this time. 

I would expect that students might have longer waits for appointments and drivers training,” she said. “And, because there is a cost to drivers training, there may be issues with finances since many parents in our community are out of work. Once students have those necessary permits and licenses come new challenges with financing vehicles, gas, insurance etc., and of course more responsibilities. Those can be overwhelming in a time when everything that we are accustomed to is in flux.” 

Junior Bailey Ham is attempting to obtain her license, and agreed that the increased waiting periods and the mandatory behind the wheel lessons have presented a major obstacle. 

“It is really hard because DMV keeps getting closed, so they are getting backed up with the amount of kids getting pushed back. It is also difficult with behind the wheel driving lessons being a requirement, as they also keep getting shut down, and those appointments have gotten backed up as well.”

As for other negative cons, Junior Molly Fowler, noted the waiting time for her drivers appointment was the hardest aspect.

“Scheduling was a month out,” she said. “A friend recently tried scheduling and she heard the next open spot was in July and DMV keeps opening and closing.”

Counselor Mary Buhr presented a possible upside for student drivers.

“I’ve heard that statistically, there are fewer drivers on the road due to many people working from home. This would be a positive for student drivers,” she said. “However, in the Grass Valley and Auburn area, I have not noticed much decrease in traffic recently.” 

Senior Lizzie Glomson addressed the difficulty of acquiring her license but also mentions the positive extension of all student permits by six months.

“It was difficult getting my license during the pandemic. I wasn’t able to take my test, and I had to wait a long time. A benefit was the extension of permits.”

As for a different perspective, Fowler sees the wait worth the benefit of being able to drive herself, “I don’t have to wait for someone to pick me up, and people aren’t late to get me.” 

Mrs. Buhr and Ms, Henry Grimm offered some advice to student drivers.

“Take your time – don’t rush,” said Mrs. Buhr. “Allow yourself plenty of time to get somewhere. If you’re waiting to make a turn and it seems like there is constant traffic preventing your turn, be patient. There WILL be a break in traffic to allow you to safely turn.” 

“Proceed cautiously,” said Ms. Henry Grimm. “Independence comes with many price tags and the responsibility of driving is immense considering the safety lives of others when piloting these massive machines.”

Although there seems to be so many obstacles to obtaining a provisional license, there is a solid reason for the hours spent learning and preparing to drive by yourself. 

Mrs. Buhr reminds students “[t]hat it is a huge responsibility to drive a car. You are controlling a machine weighing approximately 4000 pounds and your actions could cost someone their life. Be responsible. Be mature. Be patient. I have attended too many funerals of my students killed in automobile crashes – it’s heartbreaking for me and devastating to families and friends.”

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Student drivers find difficulty in license process