Learning to Drive in a Pandemic

Learning how to drive is always tricky, but learning through a pandemic puts a whole new twist on it. For L-S students Rachel Kams and Juliana Erb, learning to drive with COVID-19 on the loose has been full of ups and downs. Kams, a sophomore at L-S, was able to secure her license a couple of weeks ago while staying mindful of the COVID safety protocols. 

“Due to COVID safety protocols, I have been very cautious of not going out if it is not a necessity. I haven’t had any situations where I have had to go somewhere,” Kams said. She has not been able to go driving as much on the roads because she wants to keep everyone safe. Kams believes that going places is unnecessary and unlikely to happen because there aren’t too many places you can go to nowadays as an outing you would drive to. Because the pandemic lessens the number of places to drive to, learning the skill happens over a longer course of time. The learning process consists of driver’s education classes, like any other year, except these classes are online. 

“The driver’s ed classes were nice because you could just sit in your house and not have to go somewhere,” Kams said. She felt that the remote classes are better than the in-person classes because she can stay in her home and not go anywhere, which is easier and safer. After taking the classes and passing the permit test, Kams was finally able to drive on the roads. 

“I would have had the same amount of time in a normal year, but I could have gone more places,” she said. Driving to far places that might include driving on highways takes more time, which is good to add to the time log that is mandatory to fill out in order to get a license. However, the pandemic makes it so that driving to other states is a huge hassle with having to take a COVID test, and so it is hard for young drivers to complete their required hours of driving in a shorter amount of time. Driving to places safely is a hard task to do in a pandemic. Many young drivers like Kams have had to think about how their driving affects others in terms of safety and precautions. 

Another one of the drivers that puts safety first in their learning to drive is sophomore Juliana Erb. Erb has different ideas on driving in a pandemic than Kams does, but they both have similar ideas on how to stay safe and healthy while driving. 

“I am able to drive every weekend and a few times during the week,” Erb said. Even though there might not be many places to go outside of our state that could take up more columns on the driving log, Erb is still determined to get all of her hours needed to get her license. 

“I have a permit. In order to get the permit, I had to go to the RMV and take an eye test. I was then able to go home and take the permit test. I think the remote version of the permit test was easier than if I had to take it in person because I was in the comfort of my own home,” Erb said. Although Erb still had to go to the RMV for the first part of being able to get her permit, she was also glad that the test was online because she didn’t have to be in a classroom full of people, which is safer. 

“The driver’s ed classes that I took were also remote and I liked that because I didn’t have to go anywhere,” says Erb. She continued to note how important the remote versions of driving courses are and agreed with Kams that that was the safest and best way for them to learn their driving skills. 

In contrast, Erb believed that she had more time to drive this year than she would’ve had in past years, based on earlier experiences with others driving. She said, “I think I had more time to drive because there are fewer activities and things going on on the weekends so I have more time to drive. My driving skills have improved because of the greater amount of time I have to drive as well.”

Even though Erb and Kams have similar ideas on how they took their driving lessons, they think a little differently about when they can drive. Erb believes that it is okay to drive as long as you are using the safety protocols and not going anywhere that puts you at risk, while Kams feels that you should minimize your driving so that there is not too much of a hazard. However, they still mostly agree overall because the pandemic has affected them both in similar ways in terms of driving.