Rules You May Not Know About Teen Driving
If your teen is nearing driving age, you may be surprised by how much has changed since you got your own license. Newer rules, designed to minimize risky behaviors, give drivers time to practice—getting comfortable behind the wheel before they’re given the full privileges of a Class C license.
So what are some of the most important teen driving rules, and how can you help prepare your teen to be a safe, conscientious driver?
Driving school is a must for most teens
In 2005, Georgia enacted Joshua’s Law, making it mandatory for drivers under the age of 17 applying for a Class D license to complete a driver education course.
Certified courses are vetted by the Georgia Department of Driver Services (DDS), and they can be found through the DDS website. Parents and students are still able to select the type of course they’d prefer, whether it’s one taught by a private driver education company or one hosted at a local school. Courses are even available online. Certified courses have two parts:
- A classroom portion, with at least 30 hours of teaching
- A practical component, conducted with a DDS-licensed instructor, featuring 6 hours behind the wheel
Some families may choose to forgo the behind-the-wheel time with an instructor and instead use the Parent/Teen Driving Guide for a required 40 hours of parent-led instruction and supervised driving. All teens applying for a Class D license, regardless of whether they’ve had professional behind-the-wheel training, will need 40 hours of supervised driving time with a parent or guardian.
It takes time for teens to earn their Class C license
Like many states, Georgia also has a graduated licensing program. Young drivers have a higher risk of being involved in fatal accidents due in part to their inexperience on the road. They’re also often more likely to make poor choices, like speeding or drinking and driving. Georgia’s Teenage and Adult Driver Responsibility Act places some guardrails around 15- to 18-year-old drivers, giving them the time they need to learn.
Teens in the program go through three stages:
- Learner’s Permit. At 15, Georgians may apply for a Class CP license after passing a knowledge test. Drivers may then practice on the road when joined by a licensed Class C driver who is at least 21.
- Intermediate Provisional License. At 16 or 17, drivers may earn a Class D license after they’ve held their learner’s permit for 12 months and 1 day, have passed a road skills test and haven’t violated any major traffic laws.
- Full License. At 18, drivers may earn their Class C license if they haven’t had any serious incidents in the past year.
The Class D license comes with quite a few limitations, including:
- No driving between 12 a.m. and 5 a.m.
- For the first six months, no passengers who are outside of the driver’s immediate family
- During the second six months, only one passenger who is outside of the driver’s immediate family and younger than 21
- After 12 months, no more than three passengers who are outside of the driver’s family and are less than 21
Get ready to spend some quality time in the car
To earn a Class D license, teens must perform 40 hours of supervised driving time with a Class C driver who is at least 21. At least 6 of the 40 hours must be at night.
Helping your child meet his or her supervised driving time is one the best things you can do as a parent to train a safe driver. It may feel nerve-wracking to hand over the keys, but by exposing your child to different driving conditions (like rain or fog), you’re getting ahead of a challenging situation they’ll inevitably meet in the future.
The state doesn’t require that you log the time, but you will have to swear that the time was completed.
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