Teen drivers in Tennessee tend to lack the skills other drivers have on the roadways. This is not their fault. Rather, it is simply due to their lack of experience behind the wheel.
In order to try and correct this, or at least give novice drivers more experience, Tennessee has adopted a graduated drivers licensing program.
According to the Tennessee Department of Safety & Homeland Security, this program is a multi-tiered approach that eases novice drivers into their full driving privileges. There are three different phases to teen licensing: the learner's permit, intermediate restricted license and the intermediate unrestricted license.
Each one of these phases comes with different regulations and restrictions for driving. For example, anyone with a learner's permit, who is under the age of 18, cannot drive between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. and must have a licensed driver age 21 or older in the vehicle with them.
From here though, the restrictions change. With an intermediate restricted license, only one other passenger under the age of 21 can be in a vehicle, unless the teen driver is taking siblings to and from school and has written permission from a guardian to do so. Additionally, during this time, teen drivers cannot drive between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m.
In Tennessee, teens have an intermediate restricted license for a year. After a year, they can apply for an intermediate unrestricted license. To apply for this license, a driver cannot have more than six points on their license, could not have been involved in an accident that was their fault and cannot have two safety belt violations on their record.
Once a driver turns 18 they can then receive a regular Class D driver's license.
Of course, looking back over these regulations and restrictions, at first it may seem like a lot. However, the point of these laws is to give teens supervised experience.
Having these rules in place has also been shown to reduce the number of accidents involving teen drivers, which is why it is concerning to learn more and more teens are bypassing graduated drivers licensing by simply waiting until turning 18 to get a license.
In our next post, we will look at just how many teens are putting off getting a license and why.