New Drivers Share Their Experiences with Driving and Parking at Westside

Sophomore+Jackson+Gutta%27s+car+parked+outside+in+his+home+driveway.

Courtesy of Jackson Gutta

Sophomore Jackson Gutta’s car parked outside in his home driveway.

For many teenagers, driving means freedom. You no longer have to wait for your parents to pick you up from your activities, or get dropped off by someone else. However, freedom comes with responsibilities, and driving definitely isn’t an activity to be taken lightly. The following are some new drivers’ experiences on the roads and what it is like for new drivers at Westside High School.

COVID-19 has caused the high school to begin the school year at 25% capacity, so students have been allowed to park wherever they can find an empty spot. Kaden Guzman, who turned 16 on July 28, said he loves the new parking situation.

“I think it’s awesome because I’m a sophomore and I get to park in the jock lot and in the actual parking lot,” Guzman said. “Usually [I would] have to park on the street. I started [learning] on my neighborhood street, and then I went to Center Street. I started as a good driver because I grew up driving four wheelers, so I knew everything from learning over the years.” 

Guzman said that driving when it is dark or rainy is most difficult for him.

“The hardest part is probably when it rains and it’s night time, but driving isn’t too bad if you just relax,” Guzman said.

Sophomore Jackson Gutta got his driver’s license on July 14. Before that, he said he practiced driving in parking lots and around town with his parents.

“I first started driving in an empty parking lot,” Gutta said. “I started out as a pretty good driver because I had the basic understanding down, but it took a while to understand braking, [such as] when to brake and how hard to press the brakes.”

When Gutta goes to school, he parks in the lot by the athletic entrance.  

“I think the parking is pretty nice now with 25% [capacity], but I think it would be nicer if we had more parking for when we [are at 100%].” Gutta said.

Gutta said that he does have some more difficult moments while driving.

“[The hardest part of driving] is paying attention to the roads and knowing when to merge, [but] the worst is getting cut off,” Gutta said. “I hate getting cut off.”

Like Gutta, sophomore Ava Zimmerman said she also started in a parking lot, but driving didn’t come as easily to her.

“I learned how to drive in a creepy parking lot and went in circles forever before going on the actual streets,” Zimmerman said. “I started off [as a] horrible [driver]. I didn’t even start driving on the streets until three months before I turned 16, but I got better really fast because I drove to and from school everyday with my mom.”

Like most drivers, Zimmerman has had some tough experiences with driving. 

“I hate driving on the interstate,” Zimmerman said. “[One time] I had to swerve around a rug that came out of the car in front of me.”

Like Gutta, Zimmerman wishes that more parking spots were available at Westside High School.

“I wish there were more parking spots [at Westside],” Zimmerman said. “I hate that the only way to get a spot [in a parking lot] as a sophomore [or junior] is from a lottery.”