Teen Driver Requirements | Alive at 25 Texas

Teen Driver Requirements

Novice teen drivers are twice as likely as adult drivers to be in a fatal crash. Despite a 46-percent decline in driver fatalities of 15- to 18-year-olds between 2007 and 2016, teens are still significantly overrepresented in fatal crashes.

NHTSA research tells us that immaturity and inexperience are primary factors contributing to these deadly crashes. Both lead to high-risk behavior behind the wheel: driving at nighttime, driving after drinking any amount of alcohol, and driving distracted by passengers and electronic devices.

To address these problems, all States and the District of Columbia have enacted Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws to give teen drivers more time–under less risky circumstances–to learn the complex skills required to operate a vehicle .

While driver education classes can teach road rules and safe driving practices, they’re only part of the GDL approach, designed to ease teens onto the roadway by controlling their exposure to progressively more difficult driving experiences.

How Does the GDL System Work?
GDL laws vary from State to State, but all GDL approaches consist of three stages, identified by the type of license, provisions, and restrictions. Novice drivers 15 to 18 years old must demonstrate responsible driving behavior during each stage of licensing before advancing to the next level.

NHTSA recommends the following provisions and restrictions for each stage:

Stage 1: Learner’s Permit

  • Minimum age
  • Minimum duration
  • Required supervised driving hours

Stage 2: Intermediate (Provisional) License

  • Minimum age
  • Nighttime driving restriction
  • Passenger restriction (except for family, unless noted)

Stage 3: Full Licensure

  • Minimum age

Because GDL laws vary, it is essential to find out your own State’s GDL law. While you’re at it, check out your licensing agency’s website for the driver manual your teen reads and a parent guide to supervised driving.

Many States require parents to certify their teens have completed a certain amount of supervised driving practice – usually 40 to 50 hours – before they qualify for an intermediate license. Other States require a 6- to 12-month holding period. It’s a good idea to keep a daily log of your teen’s driving activities.

What Can I Do to Make Sure My Teen Follows the GDL Laws?
While GDL laws have proven effective, they can be difficult to enforce. Imagine the challenges police face determining your teen driver’s age from afar after 9 p.m. That’s why your oversight is so important. Set driving ground rules with your teen and explain the consequences for breaking them; then get it in writing using a contract like the Parent-Teen Driving Contract (PDF, 1.55 MB). Most importantly: Enforce the rules.

In a Nutshell

  • Learn your State’s GDL laws using this guide from the Governors Highway Safety Association.
  • Check out your licensing agency’s website for the driver manual your teen reads and a parent guide to supervised driving.
  • Keep a daily log of your teen’s driving.
  • Set driving ground rules with your teen and explain the consequences; then get it in writing and, most importantly, enforce the rules.

Source: NHTSA

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