Do you remember getting your Learner’s Permit? I do not. I am sure I had one but because we lived on a mountain I was driving up and down our country road since I was old enough to see over the steering wheel. So by the time I got my license I was very good at handling a car and my driver’s ed teacher would nap while I drove him all over town.
My 15 year old finally got her learner’s permit a few days ago. It took a little longer due to the pandemic but she passed all her tests and she was very proud. In Wake County, NC teenagers between 15-17 have to go through a process called graduated licensing before receiving a “real license” which gives them full privileges. It’s so much more complicated than when I was a teenager. I like it as a parent though, funny enough.
First, she had to take a Driver’s Education course via her school and a private company called Jordan’s Driving School. “In the old days” it was all done by the school but in our county we have over a million people so they have farmed it out to a professional driving school. Fine by me! Once the kid receive a Driving Eligibility Certificate they can now to to the DMV to get the first permit.
Level 1 limited learner permit will allow a teen to drive a Class C vehicle – you know like the ones we all drive. So no driving 18 wheelers! They have to pass a written test of 25 questions, a road sign test and a vision test. Once they get the permit, they can drive with their parent from 5am – 9pm until they log 60 hours and 6 months of driving. I have to fill out a form indicating when and how long she drove. I have to sit in the front passenger seat. They do not have to be insured and it costs $21.50. That seems like a very specific amount.
Once we log in the hours, she can go back and get her Level 2 limited provisional license. She also has to be at least 16. With this “license” she can drive unsupervised from 5am to 9pm from work, volunteering with fire and rescue and I would assume school. They cannily have one other passenger that is under 21 unless they are siblings. To get this second “license” they can’t have any moving violations, seat belt infractions, mobile phone infractions during the 6 month prior. Now, they have to be put on insurance and come to the DMV with proof. I will fork out another $21.50.
After 6 months of driving with the Level 2 “license”, she can go in for the full provisional license. We have to pay $5.50 per year and she must not have had any moving violations, seat belt infractions, mobile phone infractions during the 6 month prior. She has to have logged in at least 12 hours of driving with her level 2 license. At this time she has to pass a road test with a DMV person. So she will have a year and a half to practice before she has to pass a driving test. That seems fair.
For the past few days, I have been pulling over at the beginning of our subdivision and having her drive. She is pretty terrible. LOL She almost swiped 2 mailboxes and drove over 3 curbs today during her 30 minute driving lesson. She apologized more than a Canadian Korean. I kept telling her that this is why it is called practice. At the same time, I could not wait to get home and have a drink. As my mama used to say, “It was breaking my nerves”. But I stayed cool and cheered her on. Unlike me, she has not been driving illegally for years. LOL
If she drops out of school or is suspended then the license is taken away until she turns 18. After that she can get a license whether she has completed the graduated program or not. We want her to finish this program because the insurance company will give us a discount if she completes it. That is a great incentive.
My mom was very sensitive and so anxious that she could never stand for me to drive her around at first. Daddy, on the other hand was absolutely patient. I remember I backed his orange Jeep pickup into a tree and all he said was, “Well, I hope you didn’t hurt the tree too much.” He was a saint. I also had a family friend, Bill, who grew up driving a hearse. He would have me drive his station wagon with an open glass of water on the dash. He said, “If you can drive around the block without splashing any water out, you are a good driver. He taught me how to drive with other people in the vehicle and to try to make sure the rider was comfortable as well. I was lucky to have these two patient men teach me driving skills so I’m trying to be like them as my little girl becomes an adult.
This is a huge step to becoming independent and I’m proud to watch her grow. Motherhood is truly bittersweet.