Learning to drive is one of the classic rites of passage for American teens. Getting one’s license and hitting the road on one’s own is a symbolic act as much as a practical one, embodying the American ideals of independence and individualism. However, learning to drive can be more difficult today than it was in past generations due to budget cuts which have seen driver’s ed classes shrink and costs rise. While online driver’s ed classes have popped up, they can’t take the place of time spent behind the wheel. In most states, teens (or adult learners) have to spend dozens of hours behind the wheel, and keeping track of them can be difficult. Luckily, a teen in Elgin, Illinois has developed and launched an app which helps driving students keep track of the hours they spend practicing behind the wheel.
The app, called “Student Driver,” allows driving students to more accurately log their practice hours ahead of getting their driver’s license. The app was created by Patrick Stephen, 17, who said he got the idea when keeping track of his own practice hours and took the initiative to teach himself how to develop the app himself. “I had my permit and didn’t like how they were having us keep track of our driving time, with a sheet of paper,” Stephen told the Chicago Tribune, “so I created an app for it. I learned to make apps by doing research at home and teaching myself.”
Stephen has been coding since he was just seven years old, having taken free online programming courses through MIT. It doesn’t hurt, either, that his father is a software engineer too. Stephen will take the app to a software expo in Washington, D.C. later this year where teens from all across the country will show off their apps.
Student Driver is available in the Apple App Store.