The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

The student news site of Whitney High School in Rocklin, Calif.

Whitney Update

Is It easy?: The process of getting your instruction permit

Trinity Kim
Driving around in her car, Angelica Dianala leaves school during lunch in her Subaru that she named Penelope, with the advantage of having the driver’s permit she received in June 2023.

The first step for getting on the road is earning your provisional instructions permit, but is it easy? Those who are at least 15 and a half are eligible to take the written test. An instruction permit, also known as a learner’s permit, allows people who are still learning to drive to be more comfortable on the road under certain regulations while working on the requirements to get a driver’s license.


In order to get your permit under the age of 17 and a half, it is required to take a driver’s education course for a minimum of 30 hours to take the permit test. The course is based on the state’s driver’s handbook and it is expected for drivers to understand the rules of the road before trying for a license. After completing the course, drivers are granted a “pink slip” which is given to the DMV, where you take the test. 


In the course, new drivers learn rules of the road as well as the meaning of signs and how to share the road safely with other drivers. They also need to know the blood alcohol content for the road. For Luke Sutherland and Angelica Dianala, it took them less than a day to prepare for the permit test. 


“To study, I went over the handbook a couple of times … and took online tests from DMV Genie,” Sutherland said.


In total, there are 46 questions, and in order to get a passing grade, the test taker can get no more than eight questions wrong.


“There were a lot of questions,” Tristan Valles said. “It wasn’t too hard, though; over half of them were kind of common sense but they were just worded [hard]. Like, if you didn’t read the question [with thought], it would be difficult.” 


Though drivers like Sutherland and Dianala passed the test on their first attempt, it may take others two or more tries. The test is limited to three tries – failure to pass the third attempt would result in a requirement to reapply and a payment of all applicable application fees.


“The first time I took it, I didn’t really study. I thought that I could just go off of the course that you’re required to take, so I did fail the first time. But then, the second time, I actually read the [handbook] and I went through it like over and over again and then I passed,” Destinee Kombo said.


According to San Diego Magazine in 2023, it’s been shown that over half of teen driver’s fail their first attempt in California. A study also shows that many drivers rush into the test thinking it is easier than it actually is. A method to overcome this problem is to study the handbook. In reference to Alliance Defensive Driving School, it is shown that studying the handbook before the test improved a driver’s ability to pass the permit test rather than someone who didn’t study.


“I looked at a California permit practice quiz, and then I would do a bunch of those, or I would go in my handbook that I got from the DMV and I would highlight a bunch of stuff and I think that really helped,” Allie Rosario said.


Preparing for her permit, Nina Manugo plans on studying for the instructions permit at the beginning of February with the help of her older cousin and parents who have their driver’s license. 


“I want to try and practice a bit more before actually going [on highways,] and start off more on parking lots and streets. Once I’m [confident] enough to drive on the freeway, and then I can try and use my permit to drive my friends around with an adult – I’m excited for that,” Manugo said. 


“Honestly, I’m kind of scared because I think a lot of the rules,” Ethan Long said. “I feel like I’m not going to do very good on the test, [it’ll probably] take me a couple tries.”


Though driving introduces opportunities that allow the driver freedom to do more, including hanging out with friends or taking a daytrip, driving does come with risks. In 2023, around 1.19 million people died just from road traffic accidents and 20 to 50 million people suffered from non-fatal injuries, according to the World Health Organization. Currently for the ages between 5-29, road traffic accidents are the leading cause of death.


The time of taking the test is the driver’s choice. Others who are over 18 are allowed to take the test without the restriction of having to take the course. Nakshatra Raja, having moved here during her sophomore year, prioritized her grades rather than applying for an instruction permit.


“I heard from my cousin that if you wait until you’re after 18, you don’t have to take the driver’s education course. So I figured, [that] I’d might as well wait,” Nakshatra Raja said. “You can’t really drive yourself anywhere [with an instructions permit,] so you either have to get a family member to do it or friend to pick you up, which is fine, but it also takes a bunch of planning that I wouldn’t need if I already had my license.”


Former driver’s education course teacher Mrs. Jennifer Henry speaks on her experience while teaching the class before the program ended in 2018. 


“We covered all the material in class to get the kids ready to take the permit test when they went to DMV, and then when they finish the course, as long as they passed, they would end up with their pink slip,” Henry said. 


The class was only a semester long, and provided information that allowed students to prepare for their permit test. The administration decided to make health class a semester-long class instead of a full year, and as a result provided no time for the driver’s education course – resulting in its removal.


“[The class] gave all of the [students] an opportunity to take driver’s ed, and even if they choose to take it online, I just think more education is just reinforcement of all those policies,” Henry said. “Plus, we probably spent a lot more time in class covering issues related to driving than they’re gonna do on their own.” 



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