Young drivers will now have to put in a little more learning time before they can take the wheel on their own and drive. DOT Motor Vehicle Division director, Mark Lowe, says the law changes with the new year. “In the past you could get an intermediate license after passing driver’s ed and having an instruction permit for six months. And that’s going to increase from six months to 12 months now,” Lowe says. “And the idea behind that is to make sure that young drivers have had more time driving with supervision, more time learning, hopefully more learning experience in all weather conditions.”
There is also another restriction that parents can have put on the young drivers. “During the first six months of driving on an intermediate license the teen driver can’t have more than one unrelated passenger in the vehicle with them. That is a restriction that the parents have to agree to,” Lowe says. He says driver will have to follow the decision parents make on allowing more passengers. “If they chose to accept the restriction, then the restriction will be printed on the license that will indicate that they have a passenger limit,” Lowe says. “If they chose to wave the limit, then it simply won’t have that restriction printed on the license.”
Lowe says the passenger limit is designed to limit distractions. “For teens, that’s another step forward in the driving experience as they start to drive without adult supervision. And that first six months is really some of the most critical and some of the most dangerous time for them as they are gaining that experience. So reducing passengers reduces distractions,” according to Lowe.
He says the studies have found new drivers are more responsible without friends in the car.”The presence of other teens sometimes compels drivers to take risks they otherwise wouldn’t, so limiting that during the first six months is another safety strategy to help them gain experience safely,” according to Lowe. The new law applies to all drivers holding a minor school license, even if the drivers got the license before January.