Connect with us

Local News

Pandemic leading to less teenage drivers on local streets



DALLAS, TX – Traditionally, teenage drivers follow the same course to become a new driver.

Learners from age 15-17 are required to complete a state-approved teen drivers education course. They must then complete 32 hours of drivers education which can be done online or in a classroom setting.

On their 16th birthday, individuals can go to the Department of Public Safety (DPS) and provide the following documentation: completion certificate from their drivers ed course, drivers training log indicating they have fulfilled the required behind-the-wheel practice and a Verification of Enrollment and Attendance form (CDD-104) from their school, or an official letter from a school administrator indicating that they are currently enrolled and in attendance.

The March 2020 waiver, granted by Texas Governor Greg Abbott due to COVID-19, regarding the expiration date of commercial driver licenses (CDL) and VOE requirement for licenses ended on April 14, 2021.

“The [Department of Motor Vehicles] DMV office has always required original signatures, there [were]a few months where they didn’t [allow them]; Other than that they have always required original signatures,” Coppell High School student services receptionist Linda Adams said. “We have not slowed down [signing VOE’s] since the start of the school year because getting your license is a coming of age, something everyone wants to do.”

At one point, a learner’s license holder could arrive at the DMV when convenient. Then, they would also wait in line for hours at a time, but it was possible. Today, that isn’t the case. Texas’ DMV offices now prioritize appointments made online before taking knowledge tests and road tests, while walk-ins are still serviced.

Coppell High School Junior Arpita Rana received her learners license in December 2019. She had originally planned to get her driver’s license in March 2020, before health-conscious measures were in place.

“Everything was smooth sailing until COVID hit and I couldn’t drive for a couple months. It just felt like I was restarting my whole process of driving,” Rana said. “I knew that my appointment to get my license wouldn’t be anytime soon because of COVID-19 restrictions. Whoever wants to sign up for the drivers license has to book an appointment and if you don’t go on that particular day and then there’s a high chance of you having to wait up until September or October.”

Appointments that were available and closer to date forced teen drivers to erase the proximity aspect of their search for an opening.

“Because of the virus, all of the DPS offices were operating on an appointment only basis. We were looking at Carrollton and they had nothing, but we got lucky and there was an appointment at the Cleburne DPS,” CHS junior Aarushi Jaiswal said. “On Aug. 13 we drove one hour out, it only had six attendants working and then I got my drivers license.”

An Aceable survey found that 76% of parents believe the pandemic caused their teen to be less motivated to get a driver’s license. In families with a teen who hasn’t completed a driver’s education course, only 59% of parents said their teen showed an interest in driving.

“A lot of people talk to me about their plans to start driving, but a lot of their parents don’t want to let them do anything because of the virus,” Jaiswal said. “I know a lot of people who are approaching getting their permits quite leisurely during the pandemic rather than as timely as it would be without a pandemic.”