Laws are designed to protect the general public and keep order. With regards to teen drivers in Minnesota, certain laws that place restrictions on how and when teenagers are allowed to drive on public roads. Known as graduated driver’s licensing laws, these additional restraints are designed to protect teens in what is otherwise a particularly dangerous time in their lives. In this post we examine four driving laws in Minnesota and how they protect young drivers behind the wheel.
Minimum Age Restrictions
Minnesota youth must be 15 and a half years old to obtain a learner’s permit. Further, they must be 16 years of age and meet other requirements to obtain a driver’s license. Once they are a licensed driver, Minnesota law also imposes a number of strict rules on teen drivers that become more lenient as they get older. By age 18, teen drivers can qualify for a standard license without restriction.
The age restrictions are directly correlated to the fact that 16 year-old drivers are more likely than anyone else to be in an accident. Furthermore, the rate of fatalities in 16 to 19 year-old drivers is nearly triple that of older, more experienced drivers. It is for those same reasons that car insurance for teens tends to be more expensive than coverage for adults in their 20s and beyond.
The laws in Minnesota put emphasis on ensuring teen drivers get plenty of supervised instruction and experience behind the wheel before qualifying for a driver’s license. Currently, teens must have an instructional permit for a minimum of 6 months before applying for a driver’s license. During that time, teens must spend a minimum of 30 hours behind the wheel.
Of course, there is no such thing as too much practice. Teens can – and should – continue to practice driving with a parent or responsible adult driver long after acquiring a license. The reason is that a lack of experience is the number one reason teenagers are involved in collisions. In fact, the risk of being in an accident is the highest during the first few months after getting a driver’s license.
Nighttime Driving Restrictions
The law in Minnesota also requires a minimum of 10 hours of supervised driving at night before issuing a driver’s license. In addition, teens that have a provisional driver’s license are not allowed to drive alone between the hours of midnight and 5 a.m. the first 6 months after licensure. There are good reasons for these laws. To start with, everything looks different at night, and it may be harder to identify potential hazards. Likewise, teenagers are more likely to be involved in a crash when it is dark outside. Although 12 a.m. is the state’s legal standard, a report from the CDC suggests that teens would be safer if they were out from behind the wheel no later than 9 p.m.
Teenagers are often most bothered by laws that restrict the number of passengers allowed in the vehicle at the same time a teen is driving. According to Minnesota graduated driver’s licensing laws, teens cannot have more than one person under age 20 in the car for the first 6 months. Then, teens can have up to three passengers in the next 6 months until the restrictions are lifted entirely.
Unfortunately, young passengers – including siblings – can be a distraction to a teen driver. Friends can encourage risky behavior behind the wheel, sometimes without the teen driver even realizing it. Teens are more than three times more likely to be in a collision if they have two or more peers in the vehicle with them while driving.
While graduated licensing laws are a good start, parents may wish to consider placing their own additional restrictions on the number of passengers that can be in the car with a teen driver regardless of what the law permits.