Ready to put the pedal to the metal

In early July I’ll be 16 years old. While this significant birthday can have a number of exciting meanings, the thing most people associate with turning 16 is getting a driver’s license. I will hopefully get my license around my birthday, since I’m currently taking the Segment II Driver’s Ed. class. A driver’s license offers newfound independence for teenagers, although they may be somewhat nervous about driving.

I have driven before, so it’s not as if this is an entirely new thing to me. Since I already took Segment I driving classes, I have a learner’s permit and I can drive with a parent or other licensed adult with me. I’ve driven our cars, as well as some other relatives’ cars. Once I have my official driver’s license, though, I’ll be able to drive without adults along, which will be very different.

Along with driving cars, I’ve driven a number of other vehicles. At our camp, we have a riding lawnmower that I have (reluctantly) used to mow the lawn. I do a lot of sailing during the summer, so I’m used to steering sailboats. I have practice with motorboats, too, and I’m fairly confident in my abilities, since I’ve never crashed one. I have also become more independent lately and started riding my bike around more often. Overall, I think I have plenty of practice to be ready for driving on my own.

However, even though I feel I’m ready, the State of Michigan requires taking two Driver’s Ed. classes, Segments I and II, and passing two written tests and a driving test. The upcoming driving test is intimidating to me; even though I feel pretty confident in my driving, I’m definitely not a perfect driver and I still need quite a bit of practice. The test is made up of two parts, a parking test and a road test. While I’m worried about making a stupid mistake on the road test, the parking test makes me far more nervous. I’ve had far more practice driving than parking, and I tend to park where I feel comfortable: far away from other cars in the parking lot, and almost never parallel parking. I guess I’d better get busy practicing before I have to take the driving test.

Once I have my license, I think I’ll have a lot more freedom. Right now, if I want to go somewhere, I have to walk, ride my bike, or get a ride. Walking and biking can only get you so far, and I can’t always get a ride somewhere when I need it. That leaves me stuck sometimes. I will also be able to give my younger brother rides when he needs them. Driving will also be very useful on long road trips, such as downstate to see relatives. I will be able to drive and others in the car can just relax, although I don’t know if my parents will ever quite be able to stop worrying that I might crash.

With all my practice, classes, and plans, I think I’m ready for my 16th birthday, and hopefully a driver’s license along with it. Despite that it probably makes my parents quite nervous and sentimental that I’m growing up and becoming more independent, I’m ready to take on this new challenge. I can’t wait to get started driving, so watch out world, I’m gonna put the pedal to the metal! Just kidding.

Editor’s note: Maggie Guter, 15, is a sophomore at Marquette Senior High School. She is a long time member of 8-18 Media and is also involved in in sailing, skiing and piano. Her parents are Jake Guter and Mary Doll of Marquette. 8-18 Media is a youth journalism program of the Upper Peninsula Children’s Museum. Through the program, teams of kids write news stories and commentaries on issues important to youth and about any good, or bad, things youth are up to. For more information call 906-226-7874, or email at