The Driving Age

When your teenager starts driving it’s a load off your back; no more driving them to school, to the mall, to a friend’s house, or to cheerleading or soccer practice.  But that relief is quickly replaced with a whole new set of worries; car accidents, driving under the influence, staying out too late, or using their cell phone to talk or text while driving.

In the State of Maryland, Teenagers can obtain their drivers permit when they are 15 year and 9 months old.  They can then obtain their full provisional license when they are 16.5 having completed a driver’s education course and their parents’ have verified they have driven 60 hours on the roads in varying weather and light conditions.

As much as parents dream of the day their teenager begins driving, they also dread it. And for a good reason; not only do teenagers have the highest average number of motor vehicle accidents than any other demographic, but car accidents are the leading cause of death among America’s teenagers. On a lighter note, parents also dread the potential doubling of their car insurance rates as they add their sons or daughters to their insurance policies.

Teenage Driving Statistics:

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 19 percent of drivers below the age of 20 who were involved in fatal car accidents were distracted by their cell phone.  A recent AllState Foundation survey shows other important teenage driving statistics:

  • 56% use their cell phones while driving
  • 55% exceed the speed limit by more than 10 mph
  • 26% exceed the speed limit by more than 20 mph
  • 44% drive more safely without friends in the car
  • 40% of teen auto deaths occur between the hours of 9pm and 6am

These teenage driving statistics form the basis for many Maryland teenage driving laws. For example, Maryland law prevents a novice driver in the intermediate stage from driving between midnight and 6am.  Maryland law also restricts the number of teenage passengers in a teen motorist’s car.  Beginning drivers can only drive their own siblings in the vehicle and cannot drive other teens in the vehicle until they are 17 or 18 depending on whether they took a driver’s education course. Maryland teenage driving laws are designed to help teenage drivers ease into safe, full-time drivers.

However, the Maryland teenage driving laws are not enough.  Parents need to lead by example and be more involved in teaching their teenagers good driving habits.

The NHTSA is asking parents to monitor the number of teen passengers in the car, encourage seat belt use and establish a parent-child driving agreement that clearly outlines his responsibilities and obligations as a motorist.  Parents of teenage drivers need to learn about the graduated driver licensing laws in their state.  “Rookie Driver” is Maryland’s Graduated Driver Licensing System.

Encourage your teenager to buckle up each and every time he drives, and lay down strict rules about cell phone use while driving.  Even though Maryland is a hands-free state in regards to cell phone use, learners permit holders and drivers under the age of 18 cannot use any form of wireless communication devices even if they are hands-free.  The only exception is if they need to make an emergency call.  We parents need to lead by example and leave our phones off or in the back seat and not give in to the temptation to answer the call or text while in the vehicle.

Lastly, parents are encouraged to have frank conversations about driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.  It is prohibited for an underage motorist to drive with any amount of alcohol in his system.  Avoidance of such practices is an important, potentially life-saving subject that parents must broach with their teenage driver.

About Maryland Family and Real Estate Law
General information and commentary on child custody, support, divorce, separation, visitation, real estate, landlord/tenant and loss mitigation

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