Why I don’t want a driver’s licence

No, it is not because I want a motorbike licence.

Charlotte Chang

You’ll never meet anyone who loves thriller movies more than her.

Published: 14 April 2022, 5:42 PM

Getting a driver’s licence is almost like a rite of passage for most 18-year-olds in Singapore. When I turned 18, many of my peers were cramming driving lessons into whatever free time they had after school.

They’d squeeze in bookings for slots way in advance even when the next available session was months away.

Obtaining a licence at 18 has become such a norm. So when my grandfather asked me when I was going to get mine, I dared not tell him I didn’t want one.

But don’t get me wrong. I do see how having a licence would be advantageous in many ways. I’m not violently against the idea of it, I’d just rather not have one at this point in time.

Here are all the reasons why.

Public transport is convenient, affordable and more environmentally-friendly

As much as Singaporeans complain about our Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system, I’ve got to hand it to the Land and Transport Authority (LTA) for reducing the number of breakdowns in recent years.

Not only are trains functioning better now, bus services and routes are also constantly being introduced at different parts of Singapore.

Despite not staying in a central area, I can still travel to town within half an hour because I don’t have to transfer between modes of transport.

On top of its convenience, public transport is considerably affordable as well.


Parking fees are just one of the many additional costs to bear if you decide to drive after obtaining your licence. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/NOREEN SHAZREEN


A quick two-hour lunch in the Central Business District (CBD) area could cost you a $14 parking fee. However, if you were to take public transport instead, your transport fare would only add up to five dollars, including a return trip. 

Between the two options, I’d rather choose the latter.

Above all, taking public transport ultimately has a less negative impact on the environment than personal vehicle ownership.

While electric vehicles may have been on the rise in recent years, fuel-powered vehicles still make up for the majority of cars on the road. 

If more people were to take public transport, not only will traffic volumes be lower, carbon emissions will be reduced as well. 

Considering how Singapore is adopting more sustainable practices, following the launch of the SG Green Plan, I’d like to play my part too.

Singapore is too small to need a vehicle to go around

While some people may find Singapore too small, I am grateful for that. Given its size, it is easy to get around just on foot or by short public transport rides.

Basic necessities such as food can easily be found at the coffee shops near my house, and at times when I do have to travel, a short bus ride is enough to get to where I need to be.

I can also get a quick bubble tea fix at the neighbourhood Sweet Talk, which is within walking distance, instead of going to a shopping mall.

On the other hand, travelling in larger countries like Malaysia would typically require a private vehicle to get around. Sometimes, it is even possible to drive for over an hour just for a meal.

Instead of being envious of what other countries have so much more of, I think there’s a lot to be thankful for in Singapore.

The sheer amount of responsibility that comes with sitting behind the wheel

I may not have experienced much in life, but I’ve certainly witnessed a fair share of accidents with my own two eyes.

From the horrifying sight of a schoolmate sent flying by a collision, to the heartbreaking scratches left on cars, my biggest takeaway from all these incidents was the responsibility that came with being behind the wheel. 

I have a lot of respect for bus and taxi drivers, because not only are the lives of passengers in their hands, they also have to ensure the safety of passers-by.

I can’t begin to imagine myself in their shoes. I don’t know if I’m ready to bear that responsibility yet, or if I ever will be, which is why I’d rather take my time to grow as a person first before wanting a licence.


Bus captains are a severely overlooked line of work, given the amount of responsibility they bear. PHOTO CREDIT: YOUTHOPIA/MARIELLE DESCALSOTA


Of course, every now and then, I’d still get remarks like “It’d be so much more convenient if you could drive!” or “You’re going to need a licence next time.” I’m sure these are all true to a certain extent, as proven by those who prefer to drive.

But it’s because of these reasons that a licence has never been much of a priority to me. 

Getting a driver’s licence should be choice made out of careful consideration, and certainly not because you face pressure from family and friends.

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