James Fischer is an easy going 15-year-old, considering he allowed Q13 News to follow along to witness the uncertainties of learning how to drive.
It’s a lot to take in at first.
“All the signs you have to pay attention to, all the people in general, they can come out of nowhere,” Fischer said.
Going in reverse is the hardest thing right now for Fischer. The ease of it all will surely come down the road with a lot of practice.
“It’s really exciting,” Fischer said.
But his main reason for learning how to drive is surprisingly not all about independence, or that rite of passage to a piece of adulthood.
“So I can help my mom out. We have a big family, and it’s really hard on her waking up in the morning. It would just be great if I could help her out by driving them to school,” Fischer said.
That answer would melt any mom’s heart.
Fischer says if it wasn’t about helping his mom, though, he wouldn’t be rushing to get his license.
“You can just hop into a Fortnite game, talk on the mic, Snapchat each other,” Fischer said.
The way kids play nowadays is affecting their desires to get behind the wheel.
JC Fawcett, who operates a driving school, can personally tell you that fewer 15- and 16-year-olds are signing up at Defensive Driving School in Kirkland.
“It takes longer for people to get a license,” Fawcett said.
Fawcett says the cost of owning a car has always kept some teens from driving right away.
But the difference now: there are more options for teens to get around.
“Students aren’t pushing it as hard because they have alternative means,” Fawcett said.
“You can hop on an Uber or Lyft hop out and walk,” Fischer said.
Walking is something 16-year-old Ali Rahmn does a lot of.
We followed her along on her way home from school.
She knows the bus schedule like the back of her hand.
Rahmn takes the bus to and from Roosevelt High school every day, and the crowd doesn’t phase her.
“I will probably get a driver’s license at some point,” Rahmn said.
But she’s taking her time.
“There are very narrow streets that’s difficult to drive on,” Rahmn said.
Rahmn says Seattle city living and a convenient bus route gives her less motivation to go through the hurdles of getting a license.
“It doesn’t matter that much,” Rahmn said.
And she wonders if self driving cars will be here sooner than later.
“Self driving cars, that will be cool,” Rahmn said.
“I do believe in 20 years from now we will see a lot more in the way of autonomous cars,” Fawcett said.
Until then, Fawcett will continue to brave the turns.
“I’ve had students hit the gas when they should have hit the brakes,” Fawcett said.
He’s not talking about Fischer.
“We did a pretty good job,” Fawcett said.
When he finally gets that license, Fischer has says this is the first place he will go.
“Probably the mall,” Fischer said.
Maybe some things haven’t changed.