In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, some states have reevaluated their driving requirements. As DMVs were closed or operating at slower capacity, changes to driving requirements were deemed necessary. Georgia and Wisconsin were among states that decided to waive some road test requirements for those planning on obtaining their driving licenses.
In Georgia, that means 19,843 teens are now on the road without having taken a road test. In Wisconsin, of the 16,000 road tests on-hold due to the pandemic, 10,000 of them got waived.
While waiving some requirements for driving tests might help the DMV backlog, inexperienced drivers pose a risk to other vehicles and pedestrians. Inexperienced drivers are the cause of many accidents across the nation.
Granted in Georgia, teens must have their learners permit for one year and one day with no violations and have completed at least 40 hours of supervised driving. In Wisconsin, teens need to hold their permits for at least six months with no violations and complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving.
Giving waivers to teens without them taking a road test and checking their road readiness is not safe. Of course, even those who passed a road test can still be involved in an accident.
So far, Kentucky has not followed in the footsteps of Georgia and Wisconsin. Kentucky has multi-stage licensing procedure for teens. The process begins with a learner’s permit. Kentucky teens can apply for their learner’s permit at the age of 16.
Teens then have to take a driver’s knowledge test and pass a vision test. Should they pass they may drive with a licensed driver 21 years old or older. Kentucky teen are mandated to drive for least 60 hours, with 10 hours of driving at night. Once the initial stage is completed, they may move to an intermediate permit.
At the intermediate license stage, teens have to pass a driving test and provide proof they completed their practice driving time. Those with an intermediate license can drive alone but not between midnight and 6:00 a.m. and not with more than one non-family member under 20 years old unless there is also an adult with a valid license in the vehicle. If the teen gets a moving violation at this stage, they have to repeat the 180 day learner’s permit holding period.
If a Kentucky teen passes the intermediate stage of the licensing process at the age of 17, they are eligible for a full license without restrictions provided they held their intermediate license for 180 days and have taken and completed a certified driver education course. If the teen does not take a driver’s education course, they can get an unrestricted license when they turn 18.
Even with a more rigid process for obtaining a license, inexperience is a major concern. According to the CDC, in 2017 2,364 teens in the United States aged 16-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Crash risk is particularly high during the first months of licensure. Data from the 2017 National Household Travel Survey indicate that the crash rate per mile driven is 1.5 times higher for a 16-year-old than it is for an 18-19 year-old.
At Hessig & Pohl, we have handled hundreds of car accidents cases. If you or someone you love has been involved in a car accident and want to discuss filing a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit, Hessig & Pohl are here for you. We do not quit until we get justice and you get the compensation you need and deserve.