I remember counting down the years, months, and days until I was 16. This obsession was for one reason – so I could have the freedom of driving my own car. My Uncle Ed would take my siblings and me out and let us practice. He would find a desolate country road (or sometimes a field) and put us behind the wheel. I remember saying to him, “Uncle…what if I put the car in the ditch?” His response was, “We’ll pull you out!” And off we went. Now if you don’t have an Uncle Ed like I did, you may need to find alternative ways to prepare for your written and practical test.
Teens Waiting Longer
In the United States, teens in recent years have been waiting longer to get behind the wheel. According to the University of Michigan News Service, in 1983 about 69% of 17 year olds possessed a driver’s license, but in 2010 only 46% teens aged 17 had one. In the USA most states require that you are 16 to hold an unrestricted license…but it is up to each individual state. Did you know that if you live in South Dakota you could be driving unsupervised at 14 years/3months! The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety compiled an informative map listing minimum age for unsupervised driving throughout the United States. In the United Kingdom, you need to find out if you are old enough to drive the vehicle (e.g., car, motorbike, moped, bus, etc.) that you want. Gov.uk has a handy only tool to find out what vehicle you can drive.
Know the Risks
Driving is risky business. Did you know that during the first months after obtaining a driver’s license teens have an especially high risk of crashing? What are the characteristics that cause teens to crash? According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the contributing factors include: driver error, speeding, being distracted by passengers, driving while intoxicated, and driving at night. It is simple to infer that if you prepare better, slow down, don’t allow passengers in the beginning, don’t drink and drive, and drive when it is light out you will reduce your chances of getting in a crash.
Preparing for “The Test”
In the USA, since each state handles testing procedures differently it is best to go to your local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) and check out the requirements. In the United Kingdom, you can research information at the Driving Standards Agency (DSA) or use a third party to book your practical test online. The best advice I have for you, as a former tow truck driver that has seen lots of accidents, is to prepare extensively…your life could depend on it.
About the Blogger
Michael Gray is co-author of Auto Upkeep – a basic car care curriculum used by over 500 schools and thousands of homeschoolers in the United States and Canada. You can become a “Fan” of Auto Upkeep at Facebook.com/AutoUpkeep.