Choosing the passenger's seat

By Saj Sri-Kumar

Like many students who are seeking to purchase their own car, Devon Breton-Pakozdi ’12 started to save his money. Unlike those students, however, Breton-Pakozdi decided not to buy a car.

Breton-Pakozdi thought about getting his learner’s permit but never got around to taking the written test.

“I was just really bogged down with work, and second semester of my sophomore year was really busy,” he said.

In fact, Breton-Pakozdi’s age made him eligible for a permit as early as his freshman year, but he never took the test.

As it became clear that he wouldn’t be getting his license in the near future, Breton-Pakozdi decided he was going to save up his money for a cello instead.

“The cello had always been important to me, and that was something I was thinking about even before [thinking about driving],” he said. “I would rather have my money and my parents’ money invested in getting a cello, something that I could use for years to come, something that would appreciate in value.”

Breton-Pakozdi, who recently turned 17, said that he plans to get his license within the next year. He has passed the test for his learner’s permit and is now eligible to get a license. For the moment, however, he carpools with other students to school and is driven by his parents on other days.

Jeffrey Bu ’12 has also yet to take his license test. Unlike Breton-Pakozdi, however, Bu did not wait because of too much schoolwork. “I’ve just been very lazy,” he said.

Bu said that although he wants to get his license over the coming summer, he will not be eligible, as he will not have yet held his learner’s permit for the required six months (he recently received his permit over spring break).

Bu has recently become more motivated to get his license because it has been tough for his parents to have to pick him up from tennis practice this year.

One major obstacle that teenage drivers face is the high cost of automobile insurance.

Teenagers, who make up 14 percent of the U.S. population, were shown in a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have been responsible for 30 percent of the nation’s automobile accidents.

As a result, the Insurance Information Institute estimates that adding a teenager to an insurance policy can cause insurance premiums to increase by 50 to 100 percent.

The high insurance cost for a teenage driver was one of the reasons Julie Ko ’12 decided not to get her driver’s license at least until her 18th birthday.

Initially, Ko said that her parents pushed her to get her license when she was eligible.

“I didn’t feel I needed one,” she said. “It probably bothers my parents a little.”

Instead of driving herself, Ko said that she prefers to take public transportation.

“There’s a bus stop nearby, and [a bus pass] only costs $24 a month,” she said. “The bus can take me almost anywhere I need to go.”

Ko said that she has no plans to start driving in the near future. She plans on getting a license when she turns 18, so that she will not have to go through the process of getting a learner’s permit, but even then she said that doesn’t plan on driving.

Like Ko, Cheston Gunawan ’12 also has yet to get his permit despite being 16. He relies on his parents to drive him around thus far.

“I think that if [both of my parents] worked, I’d definitely want to get my permit so that I’d have more freedom,” he said.

Gunawan also said he mistakenly believed that California had changed the law to require people born in 1994 or later to wait until turning 18 to get a license.

Unlike Ko, however, Gunawan said that he doesn’t plan on waiting until his 18th birthday to get a license. He plans on taking the permit test in the coming months and getting a license later this year, but even then doesn’t plan on driving himself all the time.

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