Aug. 10--Christina Sahadi passed the test to get her driving permit Friday at age 19.
The minimum age to be eligible for a permit in Maryland is 15 years and 9 months, but like many young drivers, Sahadi decided to wait.
"I didn't feel ready at the time," she said.
Sahadi was concerned about staying safe behind the wheel, so she wanted more time before she took on the responsibility of driving.
Her mother, Diana Sahadi, said many of her daughter's friends weren't driving yet, either.
"I think kids today are more aware of the dangers," she said.
Fewer than half of teens get their licenses in the first year of eligibility, according to a survey by AAA.
A State Farm insurance survey generated similar numbers, but considered a shorter waiting time.
In the State Farm study, 43 percent of respondents said they would wait two months or more to get their license after becoming eligible.
Teen girls were twice as likely as boys to put off getting a license because of safety concerns, according to the State Farm survey.
But safety was not the top motivator for waiting, according to the AAA survey. Just 30 percent said being nervous about driving was a reason for their decision.
And 44 percent of respondents said that not having a car put them off getting a license.
The expense of driving was another key factor. Just over one in three responded that they didn't have a license because gas was expensive, and that same number responded that driving in general was too expensive.
Low-income and minority teens were the least likely to get their licenses before age 18, the survey showed.
Only a quarter of teens from households with incomes of less than $20,000 were licensed to drive before age 18, while nearly 80 percent from households making $100,000 or more had their licenses by then.
"In many instances, it boils down to simple economics," AAA Mid-Atlantic spokeswoman Ragina Averella said in a statement. "Meeting the necessary driver's education requirements to obtain a license can be an expensive venture."
A sizable portion of teens said they delayed driving because they didn't feel like they needed to. Thirty-nine percent of respondents said that they could get around without driving, and 35 percent "just didn't get around to it."
Other teens put off getting a permit because they want more time to prepare for the test.
Ashlea Pelger, 17, who lives in Tuscarora, said she didn't think she needed to take the permit test until she wanted to find a job.
Her family has a car for her to use, but she put off getting her license until recently because she didn't feel the need to drive.
The cost of driving was not a primary concern for Pelger, but she did think about it.
"It might affect me in the end," she said.
Pelger's mother was glad her daughter waited before trying to get her permit because she thought it was a safer choice than getting it at 15.
"You read a lot of stories about the accident rate and high mortality," Sandra Pelger said.
Follow Kelsi Loos on Twitter: @KelsiFNP.
Top reasons teens delay licensing
Did not have a car -- 44 percent
Could get around without driving -- 39 percent
Gas was too expensive -- 36 percent
Driving was too expensive -- 36 percent
Didn't get around to it -- 35 percent
Nervous about driving -- 30 percent
(Figures do not add up to 100 because respondents could select multiple reasons)
Source: AAA Mid-Atlantic
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