If you’re a teen planning to get your license at 16, there are a few things you should consider ahead of time.
Passing the DMV test is only the beginning.
You might pass the DMV test, but that doesn’t mean you’re a good driver. Just think about all the licensed drivers you see on the road. The average American driver does not have safe driving habits. In fact, we live in a culture where bad habits are the norm – hard stops, rolling stops, charging closed zones, poor turning accuracy, wrong acceleration rate, following too closely … It’s a long list. You likely have driving habits that actually increase your risk of a collision. Statistically teens have a crash rate that’s 3 times higher than any other age group.
Parental consent is required for drivers under 18
Did you know that your parents can cancel your provisional license at any time before you turn 18? That’s right. Getting your license at 16 isn’t your right. It’s a privilege granted by the state and your parents or guardians. How sad would it be to get your provisional license on your 16th birthday, only to have it taken away? If you wreck the car or get a traffic ticket, it’s possible that your parents might decide you’re really not ready to drive yet.
Car insurance is expensive
The cost of insuring a teen driver ranges from $2000 to upwards of $6000 per year. Many companies offer a discount for taking an approved driver education course such as the ODOT-approved Teen Driver Safety course offered by Freedom Driver Education. If you or your parents are willing and able to swing the insurance payment, keep in mind that everything could be lost if you’re in a wreck. Your insurance cost will increase. If your family can’t afford to insure a driver under 18, you should still consider taking driver education. You can use your driver’s permit for two years, get lots of experience and practice, then get your license at 18. Your training and good habits will pay off in the long run.
Risks you may not recognize
You may have taken to heart the warning campaigns about the Big 6 Safety Risks – Speeding, Seatbelts, Drinking, Drug Impairment, Distractions, and Driving Drowsy – and you’re careful to never engage in any of those behaviors. But what about the other risks? The ones you could be taking without even knowing it? According to stats from the NHTSA, the most frequent critical reasons for collisions at intersections are “inadequate surveillance (44.1%), ... false assumption of other’s action (8.4%), turned with obstructed view (7.8%), illegal maneuver (6.8%), internal distraction (5.7%), and misjudgment of gap or other’s speed (5.5%).” A driver education course teaches you how to avoid these errors.
Learn now, drive later
The best plan for a 15- or 16-year-old who wants to drive is to take the long road. First, take an approved driver education course. That takes about 10-12 weeks. Then, under adult supervision, drive often and in various types of conditions, developing good habits based on what you learned in driver’s ed. Get your provisional license and comply with Oregon’s graduated licensing law. Continue practicing good habits and driving with adult supervision in new situations.