Should Juniors Be Able to Drive to School?

By  Samantha Krevolin

Imagine pulling up to the DMV after taking your road test and the examiner, who’s in the car with you, hands you your temporary license proving you passed your road test. Your heart starts to race and excitement fills the air. You are now more independent than ever and gain maturity by being able to legally drive. However, this feeling dies down when you realize the place where you spend six hours a day, five days a week does not let you drive there until you’re a senior in high school.

Most juniors at Byram Hills High School are disappointed by the fact that the new privilege of driving is quickly taken away from them. The high school is where juniors, like myself, spend most of their time, so they ask “why not drive there?” However, there are many valid reasons behind the rule that explain why it should not be changed. One instance is knowing that not all juniors have their licenses at the start junior year, as students are periodically passing their road tests. Even if one has just gotten their license, staff might not feel comfortable having new drivers in the very crowded parking lot. Mr. Walsh, principal of Byram Hills High School, states, “when juniors start driving to the high school in May, there is an increased number of accidents that occur in the parking lot.” Additionally, there are just not enough parking spots in the parking lot for both seniors and juniors. Mr. Walsh also states his three main reasons behind not letting juniors drive to school are, “it is a senior privilege, it prevents safety issues, and it would be hard for the administration to manage.” This circumstance explains why in May when the seniors go on their internships, juniors are finally allowed to drive to school. Juniors look forward to this month all year.

Although students acknowledge the argument behind this rule, they still question it and want to make a change. I personally received my license in June of my sophomore year. I will finally be allowed to drive to school a year after initially getting my license. In instances like this one, many adults ask if it is even worth it for their kids to get their license if they can’t drive themselves places during the week after school. Similarly, junior Jake Stern has his license and claims, “it almost seems illogical to be able to drive, since I am forced to take the bus or have my parents pick me up” from school. He also explains how this situation relates to after-school activities since “it can be difficult to do after school programs since we don’t have a ride home.” This concept limits the extracurriculars students can take since they are unable to stay after school for clubs that go after the late bus or home sporting events if they have no ride home as some finish when begins to get dark out. Being junior year, these extracurriculars are very important to students, which is why this is a problem. Students hope that administration will eventually recognize this problem, and make changes in the near future.

In addition, there is the inevitable conflict of there being a limited amount of parking spaces at the high school. This aspect of the conflict makes students wonder what they can suggest that is a realistic solution to this problem. Some ideas include only letting juniors with their full/senior license drive to school. This concept would limit the number of juniors driving but at the same time, possibly not fill up all of the parking spots. Furthermore, other ideas include assigning juniors days they can drive to school based on the number of parking spots available or parking on nearby streets. A Sophomore at nearby Blind Brook High School describes, “Even though there are still not enough parking spots for juniors, they usually park on streets close by and walk to school.” This also happens at Byram Hills High School on nearby Sniffen and Sterling Roads. Students who live on this street or have other family members who live there let their friends park in each others’ driveways and walk to school. Not all juniors who drive park on these streets, but some still do, which is why it is important to realize the reasoning behind it. Others even get rides from senior friends, even though it seems illogical because they can drive everywhere else.

Driving is a very valuable part of juniors lives at the high school. Taking that into consideration, the high school should attempt to either come up with a solution to this problem that maintains safety as the top priority. Small steps on this matter could make a big difference in making these students’ lives more convenient.