ST. PAUL — A new law that takes effect on Jan. 1 will better prepare teens before they get their driver’s licenses and provide parents with resources to help their teens become safer drivers.
The enhanced Graduated Driver Licensing law:
- Requires all driver education programs to offer parent awareness classes which provide information on teen driving risks, laws, and the important role parents play in influencing teen safe driving behaviors.
- Increases the minimum number of hours teens must practice driving before licensure and requires a supervised driving log.
Inexperience is often a factor in crashes involving teen drivers, in addition to distraction and speed. In 2013 alone, there were 6,040 crashes involving at least one teen driver ages 16-17. That’s more than 16 crashes each day.
More Resources for Parents
Parent awareness classes are designed to draw attention to teen driver safety issues and provide parents with resources to fulfill their role of helping their teens become safe and responsible drivers. Driver education providers may develop their own state-approved curriculum or use the Point of Impact curriculum provided by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) Office of Traffic Safety.
More Practice for Teens
To take the road test, teen drivers under 18 must spend at least 20 more hours behind the wheel than the current 30-hour minimum requirement and complete a supervised driving log signed by a parent or guardian. The driving log must be submitted when taking the provisional driver license road test and becomes part of the teen’s driving record. The law also increases required nighttime driving hours from 10 to 15 within the total practice hours.
If the parent or guardian completes the 90-minute parent awareness class, the number of hours a teen is required to spend behind the wheel is reduced from a minimum of 50 to 40.
“We encourage parents to attend an awareness class with their soon-to-be teen drivers, and practice with their teens well beyond the minimum requirements,” says Gordy Pehrson, Office of Traffic Safety youth driving programs coordinator. “Every teen is unique in how long it takes to become an experienced driver. Parents need to make decisions about their teen drivers that place safety as a priority over convenience, especially during their first year of independent driving.”
Parent Awareness Class Facts
Parent Awareness Classes encourage parents to:
- Train teens on a variety of road types (city, highway, rural) and conditions (night, snow, rain).
- Reinforce teen driving laws such as seat belt use (front and back seats); passenger and nighttime driving limitations; no cell phone use; and no texting/email/Web access (including when stopped in traffic).
- Use a driving contract to set family driving rules and follow through with consequences.
The Point of Impact curriculum includes an eight minute video that presents stories of Minnesotans impacted by crashes that involved teen drivers: a young woman from Detroit Lakes who suffered a serious brain injury, a woman left paralyzed from a crash years ago when she was 15 years old, and a Mankato police officer whose father was seriously injured in a crash involving a teen asleep at the wheel.
Teen Driver Facts
- Traffic crashes are the second leading killer of Minnesota teens. (In 2013, 33 teens ages 13-19 were killed in traffic crashes.)
- Teen drivers are over-represented in crashes due to factors like inexperience, distractions, speeding and taking risks. (In 2013, driver inattention/distraction was the leading contributing factor of crashes involving teen drivers at 20.5 percent.)
- The greatest crash risk occurs during the first months of teens driving independently. (In 2013, driver inexperience contributed to 12.9 percent of single-vehicle crashes involving drivers ages 16-19, compared to just 4.1 percent of drivers ages 20-23.)
Graduated Driver’s License
The graduated driver's license law
(GDL) is designed to ease inexperienced drivers into the driving environment. There are three phases: Instruction Permit, Provisional License, and Full License. Each phase has specific requirements and conditions for licensure.
About the Minnesota Department of Public Safety
DPS comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.
About the Office of Traffic Safety
OTS designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.
OTS is an anchoring partner of the state’s Toward Zero Deaths
(TZD) traffic safety initiative
About Driver and Vehicle Services
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Driver and Vehicle Services division (DVS) is responsible for driver education, driver testing, driver licensing and maintenance of driver records; driver evaluation and compliance; motor vehicle title and registration; commercial vehicle registration; motor vehicle dealer licensing and regulation; and enforcement of no-fault insurance requirements.