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Ready for the road

Newly licensed drivers adjust their lives with new freedom and responsibility

Newly licensed drivers adjust their lives with new freedom and responsibility

August 24, 2004|by BECKY JEFFERIES/Staff Writer

For local teens, a driver's license can be the ticket to freedom.

But along with freedom come responsibility and a demand for maturity.

Whether it be a heap of financial responsibility or a wealth of parental leniency, a license can change teenagers' lives, letting them test-drive the real world, even giving them a jump-start onto the road to adulthood.

Such is the case with Matt Bailey, 16, of Williamsport, who recently took the driving skills test at the Maryland Vehicle Association in Washington County.

After being handed his new provisional driver's license, the rising junior at Williamsport High School said, "I think I'll have more freedom now. I won't have to be held back by my parents."

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For Bailey, obtaining a license generated a feeling of maturity.

"People might trust me to do more things, like run errands for them. ... I'll have more responsibility to meet curfews and arrive at places and appointments on time, such as band practice," he said.

Bailey plans to find a job in order to cover driving expenses, particularly gas.

Mike Minnichbach, 16, of Hagerstown, also counts gas among his responsibilities.

He said that after getting his license Thursday, July 29, he noticed a difference in his social life.

"People want to hang out more because there's more stuff to do when you don't have to ask your parents for a ride," said Minnichbach, who paid for his 1998 Ford Explorer - complete with an exhaust, a sound system and 20-inch rims - by mowing lawns and performing yardwork.

Minnichbach has a curfew of 10:30 p.m., the same curfew he had prior to July 29, but he expects that his parents will become more lenient. Although Minnichbach's freedom has not increased dramatically, his responsibilities have. Minnichbach said that he only pays to put fuel in the Explorer, a definite gas guzzler, but insurance will cost him, too, if he has an accident or receives a ticket.

Things aren't different for everybody, though.

For newly licensed driver Kirby Taylor, 16, of Boonsboro, lifestyle remains practically unchanged upon earning road privileges. After driving four months under a learner's permit and completing the 40 hours of supervised driving required by Maryland's Rookie Driver program, Taylor nervously passed her driving skills test right before Bailey.

Taylor said she would have a little bit more freedom by being able to drive by herself, but she won't necessarily go out more than she already does - and she won't have additional bills to pay.

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