New & Teen Drivers

With kids returning to school and those of you out there with teenagers know how excited they can be to get their drivers licenses, getting their first cars, and possibly even being allowed to drive unsupervised. This can be highly stressful and fear-inducing for parents no matter how responsible your teenaged child is. Half of all teens will be involved in a car crash before graduating from high school. Parental involvement doesn't end when a child gets a license. Teen drivers who continue to practice with their parents increase their chances of avoiding a crash. Parents need to set clear boundaries and rules for teenage drivers and it is also important for parents to set a good example for their kids, by abiding by traffic laws and not texting and driving. Also, kids that take part in drivers training have better odds of avoiding fatal crashes. In California, we have a provisional licensing program for novice drivers. This licensing program is proven effective at reducing teen drivers' high crash risk by 20-40%. GDL reduces teen driver exposure to high crash risk situations, such as nighttime driving and teen passengers. This allows new drivers to build experience and skills in lower-risk conditions. California’s provisional licensing program that has three steps:

  • Step one
    • You must first obtain a provisional permit; the student driver must be at least 15 ½ years old to take the written test and get their permit.
    • The student must then complete fifty hours of supervised driving, with a California licensed driver over the age of twenty-five.
    • Ten of the fifty required hours must be completed at night.
    • A parent or guardian is responsible for certifying, in writing, that the proper number of hours have been completed by the student.
  • Step two
    • The student may receive a provisional license if he or she is between the age of 16 and 18 years old and if they have passed the California DMV behind the wheel drivers test.
    • The new driver must also provide a parent’s signature on his or her instruction permit stating he or she has completed the fifty hours of required driving practice.
  • Step three
    • A full privilege license may be granted after the driver completes the first two steps and has no outstanding DMV or court-ordered restrictions, probation or suspensions on the driver’s record.
  • Restrictions can include:
    • In the 1st year
      • A minor cannot drive between 11 pm and 5 am
      • Transport passengers under 20 years old unless accompanied by a parent or guardian, a California Driver over the age 0f 25 years old, or a Certified Driving Instructor
      •  It is important to note that local city laws may further restrict or prohibit driving during specified hours., so it is always best to check with local law enforcement for more information.
      • It is against the law for drivers under 18 years old to use a cellphone or other wireless electronic communication device while driving, including a hands-free device, unless making a call for emergency services or on private property.
  • Exemptions may include the following:
    • When reasonable transportation is not available and it is necessary for you to drive, the law grants the following exceptions for minors to drive between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or to transport an immediate family member unaccompanied and unsupervised.
      • The law requires that you must carry a signed note explaining why you must drive and when the necessity will end.
    • Medical necessity
      • The note must be signed by your physician and include diagnosis and the probable date of recovery which will end your need to drive.
    • School or school-authorized activities
      • The note must be signed by your school principal, dean, or designee, and include a reason for the school or school-authorized activity and probable date when the activity will end.
    • Employment necessity
      • The note must be signed by your employer, verify employment, and include the probable date your employment will end.
    • Immediate need of family member
      • The note must be signed by your parent or guardian and include the reason and probable date the necessity will end.
    • Emancipated minor
      • No documentation is needed for this exemption. However, when you applied for your instruction permit, you must have declared yourself emancipated by completing a Transmittal Form (DL 11) and providing a California Insurance Proof Certificate (SR 22/SR 1P) instead of your parent or guardian signatures.
  • There is also a zero-tolerance policy in California for any teen driver who is caught driving under the influence. Violations can result in the suspension of the Provisional License for one year for a first offense or worse depending on the severity of the violation.

Teen drivers need to understand that driving is a privilege and for parents to set up clear rules and boundaries. When teens are given responsibility, trust, expectations are set and follow through happens. Even when kids make mistakes. They are learned from and kids will often rise to the expectation and make you proud. It is just our job to set them up for success. For help getting this conversation started to visit Be patient, listen, and remember what it was like when you were learning how to drive.  

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Laura @ Westside Transmission & Automotive, Inc.