ASK A TROOPER
Graduated driver license laws and parents
By SGT. CURT S. MOWERS
Minnesota State Patrol
Question: Our community is trying hard to involve parents with our local driver education programs and we would like to see an article written about the graduated driver license laws and some comments about parental involvement. We think this information is critical to safe driving for our teens. Thank you for whatever you can do!
Answer: This is a very important issue because motor vehicle crashes are the number one cause of death for teens. Also, we recently experienced National Teen Driver Safety Week. There are three basic phases to the graduated driver licensing laws — instructional, provisional and regular unrestricted license. With the instruction permit, the driver must be supervised by a licensed driver age 21 or older who must occupy the front passenger seat and they cannot use a cell phone when the vehicle is in motion except to obtain emergency assistance or prevent a crime about to be committed or unless there is a reasonable belief that a person’s life or safety is in danger.
Provisional drivers are typically under age 18 and the following applies: During the first six months of licensure there is no driving between midnight and 5 a.m. unless they are accompanied by a licensed driver age 25 or older or driving between home and place of employment or to and from home and school event for which the school has not provided transportation or for employment purpose. Also during the first six months, they are limited to only one passenger under age 20 unless accompanied by parent or guardian or the passengers are members of the driver’s immediate family. During the next (second) six months of licensure no more than three passengers under age 20 are permitted unless accompanied by parent or guardian or the passengers are members of the driver’s immediate family. Also, for these provisional drivers, they cannot be on a cell phone, including hands-free when the vehicle is in motion except to obtain emergency assistance or prevent a crime about to be committed or unless there is a reasonable belief that a person’s life or safety is in danger.
As for the comments, parents need to be involved in the successful transition of teens from non-driver to driver. The permit phase of our graduated driver license laws allow for parents to give their young driver some great driving experience. Unfortunately, many parents ignore this great responsibility and don’t provide that much-needed supervised time behind the wheel. There are a lot of great resources available now for parental involvement with their teen driver. I strongly encourage all parents to get as involved in this process as possible. You can begin by checking out all of the resources online. Visit dps.mn.gov, click on “State Patrol.” Then, under the “Traffic Topics” tab click on “Teen Driving.” You can also go to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety website and click on the “divisions” tab, click on “Office of Traffic Safety”.
If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers MN State Patrol P.O. Box 644 Brainerd, MN 56401 or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with Ask A Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.