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Column

Fewer eligible teens in Illinois are getting their driver’s licenses, according to news reports. What do you think of that trend? How old were you when you first got your license?

I was 16 when I got my license and was ready to go on my birthday. My son, however, was in no hurry and didn't get his until he was in the military, but he loves driving now.

With the struggle many people seem to have with putting down their phones, even while driving, perhaps it's good there are fewer teens behind the wheel.

I think this trend may be related with the advent of smartphones. Are teens no longer as compelled to hang out with each other in person because they can stay at home and hang out in cyberspace? I've read where teens today are more immature and less emotionally and socially developed than in the past and that seems to hold true in many examples.
It could also be a result of helicopter-parenting. If parents have raised their children while doing everything for them and have protected them from every little challenge, maybe their kids are anxious about driving. Mom can't protect you out on the road and merge onto the freeway for you.

I saw getting my license as a ticket to some freedom and independence. While the few bucks I'd be able to put into the tank didn't get me very far, I still enjoyed every mile.

Dave Cook

According to a recent report, fewer eligible teens are getting their driver's licenses because more parents are less willing to help their children practice. The report says in some cases the parents just don't feel their teen is ready to get behind the wheel. And I believe my parents can relate.

After I took driver's training in high school, they dismissed my requirement to clock a certain amount of practice hours behind the wheel before taking the driving test. With hardly any practice, I failed the test twice.

The second time I failed, I didn't even make it on the road. I was doomed when it came time to show off my parallel parking skills — or lack of. I didn't pass the test until I was 17. After two failed attempts, my parents caught on that I desperately needed more experience with parking and driving on the roadways. That practice eventually made perfect for me.
Looking back, maybe my parents knew deep down that I just wasn't ready to be behind the wheel at 16.

Goldie Rapp

Although I did get my driver's license when I was 16, it wasn't easy. I failed the first time, having never practiced going through traffic lights. And of course, as my luck would have it, the driver's license facility was located right next to a traffic light.

Looking back, I wasn't really ready to be behind the wheel. I hadn't practiced driving nearly as much as some of my peers.

With a 12-year-old boy at home who will be ready to drive in just four short years, it wouldn't break my heart if he decided to wait a year or two to get his license when he was more mature. I'm not sure if that's just me being overprotective or because of the scary statistics I've read in the past about how frequently 16-year-old drivers get into accidents.

When the time comes, I'll ultimately let him make the decision. But if he decides he wants his driver's license at age 16, he'll have to get through some pretty intensive driving sessions with me first so I can make sure he's fully prepared.

Shannon Serpette

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