Why New College Students Should Limit Driving

Oct 4, 2019 by

College Students Should Spend Less Time Driving. Here’s Why.

Attending college for the first time immediately after high school is an incredible opportunity to learn, grow, and explore new experiences. Many students attempt to preserve their mobility and increase their transportation convenience during this time by bringing along a personal car. But while there are some advantages to this approach, there are also some limiting factors; in fact, driving a personal car as your main mode of transportation can actually hinder your exposure to many new experiences.

The Main Options

Instead of driving a car, you can take advantage of one or a combination of other options:

  • Public transportation. Most major cities have at least some form of public transportation, though the quality and comprehensiveness of these forms may vary. Still, you should be able to rely on a bus, train, or other mode of transportation to get to and from class on a regular basis. It’s not always the most flexible option, or the most convenient, but it’s consistent and inexpensive.
  • Walking. If you live in an area with decent weather and sidewalks, walking could be a feasible option. Obviously, this is mostly limited by distance; any more than a couple of miles, and your walk could be completely unfeasible.
  • Biking. Biking is one of the most reliable options, since you can bike anywhere with a road and have complete control over when and where you depart. It’s also more sustainable over long distances—at least more so than walking.

So why would you choose these options over driving a car?

Cost Savings

One of the most important considering factors is the money you’ll save with this approach. The average college graduate now leaves school with nearly $30,000 of debt, so anything you can do to save money during this period could help you leave in a better financial position.

Cars are notoriously expensive. Buying one, even a used one, will cost you thousands of dollars. On top of that, you’ll be responsible for paying insurance, filling your car with gas, and paying for the inevitable repairs that will eventually become necessary. If you get into a car accident, it could financially cripple you.

Compare these costs to the costs of walking, biking, and taking public transport. A good bike is only a few hundred dollars, tops, and you can handle the maintenance on your own. Walking costs nothing, except possibly a good pair of shoes. And public transportation around most college cities is ridiculously inexpensive if you get a long-term pass, and even cheaper if you qualify for a student discount.

Social Opportunities

It’s not just about the money, either. If you take public transportation, walk, or bike, you’ll have far more opportunities to interact with other people. You’ll meet students like yourself, and people interested in what your city has to offer. Not everyone who takes public transportation will be willing to hold a conversation with you, but if you drive a car by yourself every day, you’ll be closing off that option indefinitely.

Public Transportation Knowledge

Some public transportation systems are more complicated than others, but riding on a given system on a daily basis can equip you with the skills you need to master nearly any similar system. Over time, you’ll gain more confidence navigating the city. If you choose to stay after graduating, you can tap into those skills indefinitely and become better acquainted with your surroundings. If you move or travel, you’ll find it much easier to acclimate to your surroundings because of it.

Physical Fitness

Even if you’re only walking to the bus stop, every one of these alternative options gives you more of an opportunity to exercise than simply driving a car by yourself. It’s hard to overstate the importance of exercise on your academic success and general wellbeing. Exercising regularly will improve your cognition, improve your sleep, help you maintain your weight, and reduce your susceptibility to a wide range of health conditions, including diabetes, heart disease, depression, and even illnesses like the common cold.

Environmental Protection

It’s worth noting that public transportation, walking, and biking all have a much smaller environmental impact than driving a car as well. If you’re concerned about your greenhouse gas emissions, driving a car is the worst option.


College is a time when you should be working on your independence. If you have a car readily at your disposal, you may be inclined to take more frequent trips home; while this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it could keep you from exploring the exciting new people and places in your college environment.

Owning a car isn’t a bad thing for college students, but if you can, try to rely more heavily on alternative options. Depending on where you live, the options available to you, and the general climate, some options may be better than others. If you want to make the most of your experience, try to rely on a combination of different approaches, including walking, bicycling, and public transportation, to get where you need to go.

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