Friday, March 15, 2013

More Teen Driver Talk

I think I opened up a can of something on Tuesday when I posted about my youngest getting his drivers license finally.

Seems everybody has things to say on this subject, and rightly so!

My experience as a teen going through the driving process varies greatly from that of my own teens.

Back when I was a teenager.....back when dinosaurs roamed the Virginia, the state I grew up in, a teen could get a Learner's Permit at 15 & 9 months. No test, just get your parent to sign the form and you got your Permit.
This permit allowed said teen to drive with a licensed parent in the car beside them.

I don't know if the public high schools all had a Driver's Education Class, as I attended a private high school.  The public high school down the road from our school had a driving course set up on the school grounds, complete with intersections, a working traffic light, etc. so I know that at least some of the schools taught Driver's Ed.
At my high school, we were allowed to use the public school's driving course for our Driver's Ed class.  A generous car dealer in the area who had kids attending my high school, had donated 6 new cars(nice tax deduction for him!lol)for our Driver's Ed program.

Driver's Ed ran one full quarter of the school year, and was taught 2 x a year so there was competition to get a spot.  There was a fee of something like $25 over and above the yearly tuition the school charged.
You had to have your Permit to sign up and then your parents had to sign more forms and waivers saying they wouldn't sue the school or the instructor if something bad happened.  We actually had to drive out on the road to get to the other high school and when we graduated the course we had to drive in traffic, but otherwise, we stayed on that course and practiced our driving skills.  I remember the instructor made a big deal out of practicing parallel parking and we practiced that a LOT!

As for my parents, they hardly took me out driving at all.  My mother was not around during this time and my father, when around, was much too busy to bother.  Actually he HAD taken me out one time and we ended up sideways in a ditch and after that, well, he didn't offer and I didn't ask. lol  But that's a story for another time.

On your 16th birthday(and beyond) you could go down to the DVM and take a written driving test.  IF you passed that, you then could come back (the next day if you wanted to)and take the road test.

I went down soon after turning brother drove me down.....and I passed the written test.  I remember this test was quite long and difficult.  You really had to know the rules and all that stuff in the driving booklet the state put out.

I went back as soon as my brother had the time and inclination to take me back to the DMV for the road test.   The DMV was in an industrial park area across from a residential neighborhood.  The examiner had me leave the DMV parking lot, cross the secondary roadway into the residential neighborhood, where I made a loop around the development, back across the secondary roadway back into the parking lot of the DMV.  I never got over 25 mph and drove about 1.5 miles total. lol
I passed.
And there was NO parallel parking, for which I was crushed as my BEST skill was parallel parking. 8-)

But they didn't give you your license then and there.  You were given a temporary license and assigned a date to show up at the courthouse within the next couple of weeks.
This class was a courtroom full of teens who had passed both of their driving tests.  We were all required to listen to a judge talk about the responsibility of driving.  Then we had to watch a film that showed you some scenarios that might come up while driving and how to handle those situations.  Then the State Trooper talked about all the bad things that can happen to a teen in a car and he showed his gruesome movie. Altogether it was like their version of an episode of "SCARED STRAIGHT"-Car Edition.
Then they called you up one at a time to get your license, if you weren't in the bathroom puking from the movie.

At this point, you were a legal driving Adult in VA.
No junior licenses, no restrictions on when or whom you could drive by the state.

My father was very happy the day I got my drivers license.  We had moved 1 hour away from my high school while I was in 9th grade.  We had been living in the city and I took the public bus to school or got a ride to school.  After we moved out of that town, there was no public transportation between the 2 towns. He had been paying for private school bus transportation for me every day to school, as the private schools in VA at that time did not get free school bus transport.

After I had a license in hand, he went out and found a used car for me to drive and stopped paying for my seat on the school bus.
I was expected to drive myself to and from school every day, a 2 hour round trip, on very heavily traveled roads in a major metropolitan area.
I had very little experience actually driving on a public roadway.

My ffather bought a stick shift car home on a Friday.
Did I mention that the only cars I had learned on and every driven were automatics? lolol
So I had a car I couldn't drive and I had to get myself to school now.
My brother took me out one time on the neighborhood roads and tried to teach me to drive a stick that evening.
It was more like he drove and then yelled at me when I tried......he's more like our father than he thinks. hehehe

After that session I spent the weekend going up and down our street, clutching and stalling out, over and over again, until I got the hang of it.
I HAD to learn and quickly.  It's amazing what you can do when you have no alternative. ;-)
I started driving to school on Monday.

Now let's compare my experience with my own kids' modern day experiences here in PA in getting a drivers license.

In PA currently, when you turn 16, you can go down to the DMV and get your Learner's Permit.  You have to have a dr. fill out a part about you being medically healthy enough to drive on it, as well as the parts you and your parents fill out.  You also need to bring your SS card and other proof of identity and a check for the license.
The DMV people do an eye screening and you have to pass a Knowledge Test.  The test is about 18 questions and you can't get more than 3 wrong.  If you fail the Knowledge Test you have to wait a full day to try again.
(1 try per day until you pass.)
Once you get your Permit, you have to wait 6 months from the date of your permit issuance to take the Road Test.  You also have to have 65 Hours of on-the-road driving practice in order to take the Road Test.(It use to be 50 hours but got bumped up to 65 in 2011.)  This practice can be through a Driving School(which you pay for) or with your parent(s).  You are suppose to keep a log of the practice....times, conditions, where, etc.  You have to be able to show that the teen has practiced driving in all types of weather, both during the day and at night for at least 65 hours total.

You schedule the Road Test online and it's usually 3-4 weeks before you get a slot.  When you go to take the Road Test, the Instructor makes you parallel park before taking you out on the road.  If you can't parallel park, you never get out on the road.
Once you parallel park successfully, you get to go out on the road.
If they don't fail you for some little infraction, which they often do arbitrarily, you pass and get your Junior License.
Your Permit is good for 1 year and you can take the Road Test up to 3 times before you have to reapply for a Learner's Permit.

A Junior License is for a teen under 18.  For the first 6 months of having this license, the driver is allowed to only have 1 passenger who is NOT a family member, unless accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
After the first 6 months, and the driver has no driving violations or a reportable crash, they are allowed to have up to 3 passengers under the age of 18 in the car without a parent accompanying them.  If at any time until the driver turns 18 and has a violation or a crash, the driver goes back to only allowing 1 passenger who is not a family member in the car with them.

Once your teen driver turns 18 they get a permanent regular license and all restrictions come off, except for the ones that cover all Adult drivers in the state.

I do feel my kids were/are more prepared for driving than I was at their ages.  Each of my kids had hours of instruction in all kinds of conditions before taking their Road Tests.

While the state puts plenty of restrictions on teen drivers here, Hubs and I also have our own restrictions.
We enforce the 1 passenger rule for the first 6 months.
We also require good grades if you want to drive. 
Our car insurance has our new drivers complete a course, which, when they pass, we receive a discount on our insurance rate.
Our teens only ride with approved drivers.  There is one friend our teen is not allowed to ride with because she is such a bad driver.  He knows this and agrees with us...heck, he told US we shouldn't let him ride in her car. lol
Anyone our teen wants to ride with has to be cleared by us.  This usually means we have to know the kid and/or his parents.
You have an accident and it's your fault, you pay for the damage. So far letting them know any accidents they cause will hurt their wallet has kept them accident free(except for Daughter's CVS incident).  You cause an accident, you will also probably lose your license to big bad Mom.  You cause an accident and the insurance goes up, you will pay that extra charge out of your wallet.
We also have a rule about cell phones in cars.  They are shut off while in the car.  You need to call someone?....You pull over, turn the phone on and call, then shut the phone off again.  You get caught using a phone while driving, your license gets confiscated indefinitely by big bad Mom.

Everyone knows we don't believe in giving teens or otherwise.  We feel kids appreciate rewards more if they have "skin in the game".....meaning they have contributed to the reward in some way.
We made this same offer to all three of our kids.  If they wanted their own car, we would match whatever dollar amount they saved up to buy a car.  IE--Save up $4K and we'd kick in another $4K so you can buy an $8K car.  If the teen had to work for that car money, they would probably take better care of that vehicle and appreciate it more, right?  The offer expires once you graduate high school.
Not a one of them took us up on that offer.  Seems they wanted the car but wanted to put the money they earned from part time jobs toward other things.

Instead, we ended up getting a third family car because the oldest get into the Young Scholars Program at the local college and he needed a vehicle to commute to class 3 days a week.  We ended up buying my mother's old Toyota Corolla from my brother's estate for that use and we've been a 3 car family ever since.  We have a Buick Century instead now and the Daughter uses it to get to college and her job.  #2 Son uses my car when he needs to go to work or band rehearsals, and once the Daughter leaves later this year, he'll get exclusive use of the third car unless he does something to show me he is not ready for the responsibility. 

We are hard asses here about teens and driving and other privileges.


1 comment:

  1. We did the same thing with all of them(well youngest doesnt have car yet because she hasnt graduated college yet) We match up to 3500.00, they have to pay there share of the insurance and since I pay twice a year they have 6 month intervals to get it together. They also have to keep enough on hand for gas and any repairs. We also have a no texting talking on the phone rule. If I pull up the bill and find out you sent a text or used your phone in the time you had the car you lose both. Well not the 23 year old since he never answers his phone anyway.

    When we do start looking for a car for youngest this summer(she is living at home first two years then happy valley time) we are going up towards you and my sister to look because we have way to many flood cars down here.

    I found with my oldest that he took much better car of his car when he knew he had to pay for repairs, gas , and insurance. When he purchased my van last year(yes I made my kid pay me for my car but I gave him a good price) he was able to sell his car to one of his friends for more than he paid for it because he had taken care of it and the kids parents were impressed that he had all the paperwork and everything. He is hoping to keep the van for at least another 3 years at least so again he takes care of it

    Can you tell I am a big fan of taking care of cars


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