Ready to Learn How to Drive? Follow These 4 Steps to Obtain a Teen Driver’s License

Ready to Learn How to Drive? Follow These 4 Steps to Obtain a Teen Driver’s License

Every parent of teenagers starts thinking about their kid’s first car as they approach the age of 16. It’s very likely your teenager is also imagining the freedom having their own wheels will bring them. So when they reach the magic age when you’re considering the options, the first thing to deal with is to follow the steps to get them legally behind the wheel of any car.

Navigating the processes to obtaining a license requires a lot of work and motivation and that’s a good thing. Every day six teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 die from motor vehicle injuries according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The most effective way of preventing accidents and injury is by ensuring your teen has learned the appropriate skills both in the classroom and on the road.

Each state will have its own structure for driving programs although there are four universal steps to getting a license regardless of where you live. Naturally there are tests and fees involved which will vary from state to state. In this article, we detail the main processes involved in obtaining a driver’s license for your teen.

  1. Get a Learner’s Permit

The first step towards getting a driver’s license is to get a learner’s permit. In some states, teenagers can get behind the wheel from as young as 14, whereas others have to wait another two years. The most common age for a learner’s permit in the US is 15 although you can find out the criteria for your state HERE

Depending on the state you’re living in, drivers are often allowed to apply for a driver’s permit by mail. That said it’s probably easier for parents to go to the DMV with their child as their consent will be required. Because of the form-filling involved and submission of documents, it’s probably best to go to the offices rather than risking important documents being lost in the post.

It’s important to make sure you have all the right documentation with you so that there’s no delay in processing the application. The main document you need is ID which can be a birth certificate or Social Security card. Take copies of original documents and take them both with you as some states only accept originals whereas others are OK with photocopies.

To get a learner’s permit, applicants have to pass a vision test and also a written exam on driving skills and the respective state’s traffic laws. The information your teen will need to study ahead of the exam can be found in your state’s DMV handbook. Some children who are taking part in driver’s education courses may not need to take the theory test although proof of enrollment will be required by the DMV.

Subject to all of the above going well, there will usually be a fee to pay for the permit and then you’re ready to move to the next phase.

  1. Complete Driver’s Ed

Learning driving skills and how to use them on the road is crucial for everyone new to the road. There are some states that require teens to be enrolled on a driver’s education program before they are allowed a learner’s permit, whereas others require it after it has been issued. Regardless of your state’s requirements, enrolling your teen on a driver’s ed program as soon as they are of age is always recommended as it gives them a valuable head-start.

Driver’s education programs cover a wide range of things new drivers need to be aware of. The kind of subjects involved usually includes road signs, traffic laws and driver safety techniques. The program may vary slightly from state to state but generally involves a certain amount of time in the classroom backed up with some hours of driving practice on the road.

Driver’s education programs are hugely beneficial for teen drivers in helping them understand the significant responsibility of being in control of a vehicle. This is an essential step in becoming a safe and responsible road user and allows them to practice skills in a real-world environment where they are fully supervised. Although the idea of teaching your child to drive yourself often seems like the easiest and cheapest option, it can be enormously stressful as well!

  1. Upgrade to a Provisional License

Once teens have completed a driver’s education program, they move on to the next stage known as a “graduated driver licensing” program (GDL). This basically means they get a provisional license or probationary license depending on the state. This is an intermediate step before progressing to a full and unrestricted driver’s license. Teenagers are usually around the ages of 16 or 17 when they go through this process.

Getting a provisional license involves similar steps to those for a learner’s permit. There will usually be another theory exam at the DMV and a fee for the provisional license. When your teen goes to the DMV this time, they will not only need their ID but also proof of attendance of a driver’s ed program and the hours they spent on behind the wheel training.

The biggest hurdle to getting a provisional license is proving skill and attention on the road. Everybody has to pass driving tests before they are able to get a provisional license and there is never any guarantee they will pass first time. According to research, the average pass rate in the US is less than 50% but it’s reassuring to know that new drivers have been put through their paces before they’re able to take to the road.

Once your teen has passed their test and have gotten their provisional license, they will have more freedom on the road. However, they still have to deal with slightly different regulations than for those who have a full license. Drivers on a provisional license are expected to have a certain amount of supervised driving hours and they are also limited to how many passengers they are allowed. These are necessary restrictions to keep provisional drivers safe on the road while they are still getting used to driving.

  1. Get an Actual Driver’s License

Once your teen has passed through all the previous steps, they will be ready for the big one: getting a full driver’s license. Although this is the final step, it is possibly the easiest as your young driver will have become accustomed to driving safely on the road and will have extra confidence in their skills. Many people believe that the most important quality a safe driver has is confidence. When drivers doubt their ability, they tend to make mistakes, some of which can be dangerous.

Generally speaking, the only obstacle in their way could be time. Some states require drivers to remain on provisional licenses for a certain time period before they are able to get a full license. During this time they will be expected to observe traffic laws and maintain a clean driving record. However, once your state’s benchmarks have been met, they will have their provisional licenses upgraded automatically.

Helping Your Teen Become a Safe Driver

Although it’s tempting to believe that a driver’s license is a rite of passage and that a teenager is going to benefit from this new independence, there are many safety aspects to consider. There’s more to consider than simply obtaining a license and taking to the road.

For a start there are the potentially high insurance costs for teen drivers and that combined with the cost of buying and maintaining a car can be very expensive.

Ultimately, getting behind the wheel is a huge responsibility regardless of age and so learning how to driver correctly is essential. Although as we mentioned above its tempting to teach your kids yourself, you can often do more harm than good. When you’ve been driving for many years, it’s easy to develop bad habits without realizing and you don’t want to transfer those bad skills to your kids.

It’s always better to make solid investment in ensuring your teen is safe by completing a driver’s education program as soon as they are reaching the age for obtaining a learner’s permit. Many kids imagine driving a car is much easier than it actually is and so it’s good for them to have some real-life experience that’s completely supervised and safe.

One of the best ways of ensuring your teen is safe on the road is to get the right car for them. Although you may want to keep costs down, it is not always the best option, particularly where safety is concerned. It’s crucial you buy or lease a car that isn’t too old, has a good service history and has been fully maintained by a careful owner. It’s easy to find more details on the wide range of models available that make perfect first cars, although it’s always recommended to seek advice from someone in the know.

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