Growing up in Australia, we’ve all gone through various rites of passage into adulthood. Some of these are very traditional – ranging from leaving school, getting a (usually forgettable) first job, or having our first alcoholic drink – to things we as Aussies do best, such as our first shoey, weaning ourselves off goon (but still drinking it because it’s the cheapest alcohol around), and early morning conversations about nothing by a clear glass dining table, the staple of our backyards. In the centre of all this, getting our provisional license is often viewed as the quintessential rite of passage. After all, how can the late-night Maccas runs or parked-car conversations take place without the car itself?
Despite the ‘importance’ of this passage, at the age of 19 I am still on my learner’s license – and happy with it. Like everyone else, I took my test at 16, watched my friends progress and get their own cars, and share designated driver responsibilities. There were times when I was publicly ridiculed for not knowing how to drive or just not wanting to. So, for all the people in my situation (and even for those who aren’t), here are the benefits of not having your provisional or full driver’s license.
- Our planning is impeccable
Without a car, the next best way to get around is public transport. However, in Sydney, trains and buses are constantly off-schedule, experiencing track work, or affected by weather. Knowing this, those of us without licenses are compelled to factor in disturbances and contingencies to their travel times, as well as know when these delays are likely to occur. Not only does this help us get to our destination quicker, but the planning skills we develop are easily transferable to our working and studying lives too.
Organising schedules, meeting deadlines, and preparing for work are second-nature to us. When the transport system or our plan A fails, we always have a plan B ready.
- We have great skills in prioritising
With no cars, it’s harder for us to get where we need to be. On rainy days, Netflix, a blanket, and a cup of tea is much more appealing than going out; but if we need to, we will. In planning our journey, we go on to hone our skills in prioritisation and activity-ordering. When we prioritise, we consider our needs, the needs of others, and can analyse the best way of getting through each task in our day. Sure, this can happen regardless of whether we have our full licenses or not, but it is because of this extra consideration that we can improve our ability in a way that others may not consider.
Without a car, we learn what is important to get done, and what can wait.
- We (can) save our money for future use
Ever been unable to contribute to a discussion on the rise of petrol prices or rental fees? That’s probably a good thing. Not needing to worry about whether we can meet vehicle repayments, afford to pimp our rides, or have enough petrol to get home gives us the financial independence to spend or save money more as we wish and less as we must. Our weekly and monthly budgets need not account for this extra expense – and can go towards leisure expenses or our future nest egg. Best of all, with Opal’s travel caps and its weekly travel reward, plus Uber’s split payment scheme, there are many ways to save on transport already; we’re just saving more!
The Royal Automobile Club of Queensland estimates car costs range from $115 to $240 per week; save your money by not getting a car, and use it however you like elsewhere.
- We can help the environment (and our body too)
Ditch the 6-tonne-of-carbon-dioxide-emitting-per-year car and hop on a bike or take a run; there’s no better way to reduce our carbon emissions and still get around quickly. In all major cities, sharebikes of all different kinds are available in good working condition, most with a helmet. For as little as $1 for 30 minutes, Mobike, ReddyGo, and oBike can keep you fit and emission-free, and has great benefits for your health too. A study conducted in 2001 found that aerobic exercise (like that of riding a bike) can reduce anxiety, and another found that physical activity is as effective as anti-depressive psychotherapy! Cycle past the traffic, and feel good about it too.
If helping the environment is helping us, we’re obliged to make the most of it, right?
Ultimately, I will get my license, but only when I am ready. To those without theirs too, don’t feel pressured or forced. We’ll pass this rite – when all these benefits start losing their appeal.