Is the Pandemic making it harder for Teens to get their Driver’s License?

Teens Face Challenges in Getting Driver's Licenses

January 12, 2021

For many teens, getting their driver’s license is one of their top priorities. This is often their first taste of freedom and responsibility. It is as close to freedom as these young people get. Unfortunately, for today’s youth, a global pandemic has made this task difficult for teens to get their driver’s license.  In this article, we will analyze how teens are getting their driver’s license. Young people today must navigate a changing set of added challenges to acquire a driver’s license in these uncertain and unprecedented times.

Early in the global pandemic in Spring 2020, the Minnesota Department of Safety Drivers Vehicles Services, the DMV, shut testing services for the state.  There were concerns about transmission of the CoronaVirus.  When the DMV reopened, they consolidated the testing sites into fewer locations in the state.  This made the process of taking the road test rather difficult for youth who were trying to take the test.  The first thing that happened was long wait periods to get a test scheduled. Once scheduled, people had to drive from their homes, and in some cases, across the state to take their test.

New Driver's Keys

When the Minnesota Department of Driver Vehicles Services stopped offering road tests at the New Ulm location; student drivers had to schedule tests in other locations.  This experience was described by a New Ulm student named Vinnie.

“I had a test scheduled but they canceled it and I had to I had a test scheduled but I had to reschedule one farther away,”  Vinnie stating, reporting that this experience made him annoyed to have to travel further away to take the same test he could have taken right in New Ulm. “The unfamiliar city didn’t stop me.” 

Fortunately, Vinnie was successful and is now driving around New Ulm with his license. 

The unfamiliar city didn’t stop me.”

— Vinnie L

For some students, they traveled to a different city only to fail the test and have to schedule it back again.  According to the DMV, “one in four student drivers fails the test the first time they take it”.  With students driving from New Ulm to Fairmont, Marshall, Mankato, and the Twin Cities to take tests, they held a 25 percent chance of needing to redo the test. The travel can add up and decrease the odds of passing. Students are still taking and passing their tests, but the process is taking longer and can cause lots of anxiety and stress in an already unprecedented time in the world and in America at large. 

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