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Teen Driving

Teens are required to take a New York driver’s ed class because as a group, they are known to be poor drivers. One reason teens have a poor driving record overall is that they have not had enough time to develop their driving skills. Practice makes perfect-and newly licensed teens are far from practiced! Teenagers are more likely to take risks than older, experienced drivers. They feel invincible, and that can definitely cause trouble on the road.

In fact, between 2000 and 2006, data from the National Highway Safety Traffic Association shows that there were 1,347 fatal crashes involving teenage drivers in New York state alone. According to the Insurance Highway Safety Institute, teens are involved in automobile accidents at a rate that is 4 times higher than that of more experienced drivers.  The most deadly months for teens are June, July and August, when they are out of school and driving more often. Perhaps unsurprisingly, New York City is the worst area for teen drivers. Of those 1,347 fatal crashes, 869 happened to teens in the New York City metro area.

In order to protect teens while they learn how to be safe, responsible drivers, the New York DMV has a graduated licensing program in place. Even after teens get their full New York driver’s licenses, they still have some restrictions on when they can drive and who is allowed to be in the car with them. For example, teens holding a “junior license” cannot have more than 2 people under 21 with them in the car, unless their parent, guardian or a driver’s ed instructor is also with them. There are also restrictions on what times they are allowed to drive. Permitted driving times vary from borough to borough, but generally late-night/early morning hours are forbidden.

These restrictions are gradually removed as teens gain more experience behind the wheel. In 6 months, a limited junior license is replaced by a “full-use” junior license. Young drivers get their unrestricted senior license at 17 if they completed a driver’s ed class in a high school or college and at 18 if they only took the 5 hour pre-licensing class.

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