Home » Opinion » Opinion: Learning to drive at age 19: ‘Driving is a huge responsibility’

Opinion: Learning to drive at age 19: ‘Driving is a huge responsibility’

Lantern reporter Sallee Ann Ruibal learns to drive at 19 years old. Credit: Courtesy of Sallee Ann Ruibal

Lantern reporter Sallee Ann Ruibal learns to drive at 19 years old.
Credit: Courtesy of Sallee Ann Ruibal

I jokingly called it my green card.

My Ohio state identification card was green at the top. At the bottom, in all capital letters, it stated “NON-DRIVER.”

I got it so if I wanted to go to Big Bar, I could prove I’m over 18 years old without showing my passport.

Thankfully, I’ve never actually made it to Big Bar.

But now I’ve made it behind the wheel. I might be hyperventilating and crying some of the time, but I’ve made it. My new ID is my temporary license.

It’s a long story about what got me here and why it took so long, but all that matters is that I’m here.

Similar to how people go back to college to finish a degree, I am settling unfinished business of my own. I am 19 years old and learning to drive for the first time.

I want to be able to run a quick errand on my own. I want to tell potential employers I do indeed have reliable transportation. I want to drive home for visits instead of riding Greyhound. I want what every licensed driver has — independence.

In Ohio, once you are over 18, a driver education certificate and notarized 50-hour affidavit are not required to obtain your license.

You just have to show up, show them what you got and hope you got enough.

I couldn’t even take driver education if I wanted to because my car is outfitted with pedal extensions to fit my short legs (thanks, dwarfism). It’s the only car I can drive.

Temporary license holders under 16 years old require a certified driving instructor or parent/guardian to be seated next to them when driving.

Once you are over 16, the state of Ohio allows any licensed driver 21 years old and over to ride in a car with someone who has only his or her temporary license.

My boyfriend, Myles, is 22. Lucky him.

Myles gets to be launched forward when I step on the brake too fast. He gets to say, “You’re taking this turn too fast. Too fast! TOO FAST!” and then pull the emergency brake. He gets to take over the steering wheel from the passenger seat and turn the hazards on.

Myles also gets fast-food lunches as a “thank you” for being patient with me.

“Just please be careful,” my mom said as she dropped me off in Columbus with my new, shiny red car. “This is a lot of responsibility.”

And driving is a huge responsibility.

I could put a metaphor here about how driving down a deserted residential road is more than just that. It’s driving toward opportunity and dreams and fluffy “Chicken Soup” stuff.

But it’s not floating in clouds. It’s not like playing “Mario Kart.” It is positively petrifying.

I don’t want to hydroplane or have literal tons of metal crush around me. I don’t want to turn too soon or too slow and take out other cars, mailboxes, and I definitely do not want to harm any squirrels.

As scary as it is though, it is also absolutely thrilling to drive. It’s a step toward that independence I mentioned.

I hope every driver values the privilege.

One comment

  1. I remember the day my buckeye child was about to start driving school. My oldest daughter called me and said “Can you afford to send both of us I really want my license?” hahahaha They had fun together but also remembered my teen sis was killed getting off a school but so take driving seriously!!!!! At 16 in St. Louis it was the thing to get our licenses so I’m amazed how many adults don’t drive but now have regrets!

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