What You Should Know About ... Your Teen's Driver License
By Tom Wiecek, Certified Insurance Counselor, President
Society of Family Insurance Specialists
Your child has just reached a milestone in life that can be a very exciting time for your child but also, a trying time for many parents. It is important for parents to explain to their teen driver that driving is a privilege and a responsibility. It is NOT a right. Your state gives your teen the privilege to drive on its roads and your state can take away this privilege if your teen is not a responsible driver.
Graduated Driver License
Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers and parents should take every precaution possible to prepare their teen for the road. Statistically, 16 years olds are at the highest risk. Inexperience and immaturity of 16 year olds has prompted most states to incorporate "Graduated Driver Licensing".
Under a Graduated Driver Licensing system, initial driving experience is limited to lower risk situations. There are three stages with specific restrictions that new drivers must complete to earn their driver license.
1. Learner's permit- allows driving only while supervised by a fully licensed driver. Some states require that the fully licensed driver is a parent or guardian.
2. Intermediate Driver License- allows unsupervised driving under certain restrictions.
3. Full Driver License- no restrictions
Studies show that the most common causes of accidents involving 16 year old drivers are distractions from passengers and driving at night. The Graduated Licensing system reduces these challenges and allows the driver to gain the most experience possible.
During this period, parents should spend as much time as possible with the teen behind the wheel in order to make the most of this learning experience. Driving instruction experts advise that new drivers should have at least 100 hours of supervised driving experience before they are allowed to drive unsupervised.
Parents can take proactive steps in assisting the education of their teen driver. By using a Home Study Driving Course, parents can reinforce the professional training the teen driver gets from a driving school. This will provide step by step lessons and practice exercises to develop the most important skills teens should master.
How to Obtain a Driver License
Eligibility for a learner's permit varies from state to state. Many states have raised the minimum age from 15 to 15 ½. You will need to check with your specific state driver license office to find out the details on eligibility, restrictions and requirements. Here are the most common requirements to obtain a driver license or learner's permit:
Proof of residency- You will need to provide documentation that has your name and address. Some examples include:
- Any document issued by the state or federal government (valid passport, voter registration card)
- School records signed by a school official including a driver education certificate
- Computer generated check stub
- Bank account statement
- Library card
Proof of Age and Identity- Most states require documents with name, age and social security number. The following documents are accepted by most states. You may need to provide two documents in order to meet this requirement.
- Social Security card
- Birth Certificate
- School registration documents signed by a school official
- Valid Passport
- Adoption papers
Proof of Driver Education- Many states require up to 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of driving in order to get a full driver license. A signed certificate may be required.
Proof of Insurance- Almost every state requires that drivers must be insured with liability protection. Since most new drivers are insured under the parent's policy, a signed proof of insurance form from the licensed insurance agent or insurance company representative will be required.
Test Requirements- Certain tests are required to prove the ability to drive safely in order to obtain a driver license.
- Vision Test- Your vision will be checked to meet minimum standards. If corrective lens are used to complete the vision test, you must use corrective lens while driving at all times. Your driver license or learner's permit will note that corrective lens must be worn.
- Traffic Signs- You must be able to identify traffic signs by color and shape and explain what they mean.
- Driving Knowledge- A written test on traffic laws and safe driving skills is required for a learner's permit.
- Driving Ability- In order to obtain a full driver license, a driving test is required. This is an on-the-road driving test and includes the following skills.
- Approaches to intersections, traffic signals, and stop signs
- Quick stops
- Stopping, starting, and parking
- Shifting to a lower gear on a downgrade
- Turn signals and use of the horn
- Use of lanes
- Following another vehicle
- Passing and being passed
- Yielding to right-of-way to pedestrians and other vehicles
- Driving posture
- Three-point turn around
Requirements for Maintaining a Driver License
- Liability Insurance- Most states require that drivers have liability insurance and it must remain in force for as long as the driver is licensed. If a lapse occurs, some states have the right to suspend your driver license. In order to reinstate a driver license, proof of current liability insurance will be required plus possible fines.
- Driving Record- Violations depending on severity and frequency can cause the suspension or revocation of your driver license. Driving under the influence, underage drinking and driving, and multiple violations can cause immediate loss of a driver license. A single violation while driving during the graduated licensing period can cause a suspension and delay of full licensure in most states. Other violations that can result in suspension or revocation of a drivers license include
- Death by vehicle
- Assault with a vehicle
- Speeding while trying to avoid arrest
- Prearranged racing
- Willful refusal to submit to a blood or breath test
- Reckless driving
- Getting a driver license or learner permit under false pretense
- Failure to appear or pay a fine
The information contained in this article is not state specific regarding the laws and regulations to obtain and maintain a driver license. You should check with your state driver license office to make sure your teen is prepared and eligible to obtain a driver license.
If you would like to learn how you can make your teen a safer driver, improve your teen's driver education, and protect your family, enter this site and a local Family Insurance Specialist will be glad to help you.
You can also find out how you can get a free copy of our Safe Teen Driver Guide, the key to your teen driver's education.
There are many other tools found inside TeenDriverInsurance.com including a Parent/Teen Driving Contract and 101 Safety Tips for Teen Drivers. Plus, you can learn about a system that can instantly make your teen a safe driver. It's a GPS monitoring system that alerts you every time your teen drives at dangerous speeds or breaks other rules that you have set.
So, enter your zip code now and protect what is most important to you ... your child and your family's future!
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