Driving with COVID-19

Madelynn Beck, reporter

COVID-19 quickly took the world by storm a little over a year ago. As the world shut down, many teens found themselves missing out on what’s said to be the best years of their lives. Important high school events like prom, sports, graduation, and getting your driver’s license have all been put on the back burner. For a number of months, many states completely shutdown all DMVs and Drivers Education classes and extended learners permit expiration dates to allow teens to practice their driving legally during the pandemic. 

While still under quarantine, many states prohibited teens from logging hours behind the wheel, except for errands deemed essential. Teens also found it challenging to find a willing participant to notarize their affidavits due to COVID-19 fears. 

Zach Buss, a junior at Westerville North, experienced these difficulties first hand as he tried to complete his driver’s education requirements at home. 

“I wasn’t able to log hours for two months during quarantine,” Buss said. “When I finally completed those things it was extremely difficult to find someone who was comfortable notarizing my affidavit because of how little we knew about COVID at the time.” 

As  DMVs began reopening in the summer of 2020, teens found themselves with a plethora of new restrictions to abide by to obtain their license. 

Kelsey Rice, a junior at Thomas Worthington, spoke on some of those restrictions, 

“COVID-19 affected my in-cars and my actual drivers test. For my in-cars I had to wear a mask and use hand sanitizer when I got in and out of the car,” Rice said.. “For my drivers test I had to take the test in the back of the BMV building with my dad who wasn’t allowed to talk to me. ”

As teens continue to navigate these new guidelines, they are tasked with taking into consideration new scheduling difficulties that had not been nearly as much of an issue prior to COVID-19. Many DMVs across the country have prohibited walk-in appointments and instead require citizens to schedule an appointment in advance.  

Iliona Thaci, a junior at Westerville North, was scheduled to get her license in September of 2020. 

“Because of corona the process of getting my license was delayed three months since it was so difficult to schedule at the DMVs,” Thaci said. “I ended up getting my license mid- December instead of September.” 

As life alongside COVID-19 continues, DMVs are continuing to adapt their expectations and requirements to fit the times. Teens across the nation can only hope for a smoother and more understanding drivers education process.