05 N1206P15012CAs a parent, I remember the pit in my stomach as each of my children got old enough to get behind the wheel. Of course, I see the worst of what happens when people do not drive safely, but for all of us, there are so many worries and so much anxiety as our children learn how to drive. Will they drive safely? Will they be safe? What about the other crazy drivers on the road?

How does this process work? North Carolina has a graduated licensing process that requires students who are at least 14 ½ years old and are pursuing a high school diploma or GED to enroll in an approved driver education course, which consists of 30 hours of classroom time and six hours of driving time, as well as an eye exam. Once completed, a student will receive a Driver’s Education Certificate, which allows them to apply for a Level 1 permit. Under Level 1, a driver must be 15-17 years old, must drive only when supervised — between 5 a.m. and 9 p.m. — for the first six months. The use of mobile devices is prohibited. Once these requirements are met, a Level 2 “limited provisional license” allows unsupervised driving from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. and to or from work. A driver must be 16-17 years old, have a limited learners permit for 12 months, have completed and logged at least 60 hours of driving, have no convictions of moving violations or seat belt/mobile phone infractions and pass an on-the-road driving test. Under the provisional license, there must be proof of liability insurance, no more than one passenger under 21 years old in the vehicle — unless they are members of the same household as the driver — and use of mobile devices is prohibited. The final step is a Level 3, which is a full provisional license. It allows unsupervised driving at any time so long as the driver is 16-17 years old, had a provision license for at least six months, has no convictions similar to those listed in Level 2, has completed and logged at least 12 hours of driving and, again, use of mobile devices is prohibited. For more information on the graduated licensing process, visit https://www.ncdot.gov/dmv/license-id/driver-licenses/new-drivers/Pages/graduated-licensing.aspx.

Here are a few important things to do through this graduated licensing process: 1) make sure you have adequate insurance coverage. See my article from Jan. 8.
2) Enforce and set the example on mobile devices. Some studies show teens whose parents drive distracted are two to four times as likely to drive distracted themselves. 3) Lay down the law — understand North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicle requirements and follow them. Your teen will be safer for it.

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