Compare Driver's Ed Requirements By State

Driving - Teens, Driver's Ed

Of all age groups and demographics tooling around the roads today, teenagers are at a far greater risk of being involved in accidents than any other. This is obviously the result of two chief factors: youth and inexperience. For this reason, there are specific driver’s ed requirements that all teens are required to take (and pass) before they can get their licenses. But since requirements are handled individually by states, where you live can have a significant impact on the kind of driver’s ed that a teenager gets. Here are a few examples of driver’s ed requirements by state.

  • Only 29 states require that drivers with no prior experience behind the wheel take driver’s education courses. This doesn’t mean that anyone can just walk up to the nearest DMV counter and walk away with a license to drive. What this means if that there are no state mandated laws – and that it’s up to different counties and municipalities to decide the level of pre-driving education that’s required. This approach is usually found in states that have population areas that run the gamut from extremely rural to extremely populated. For example, would it make much sense to require a young driver from rural Washington State to take the same level of driver’s ed as a young driver living in downtown Seattle? We vote no, and you’ll probably vote the same.
  • Some states don’t require any driver’s education courses at all for first-time drivers, instead leaving that decision up to the driver and his or her parents, if they’re underage. All states, however, have strict laws in place about minimum age requirements to be able to apply for a driver’s permit.
  • Depending on where you live, a young driver might be eligible to get a license from the age of 14. Although the most common age is 16, some states allow “graduated licensing” which means that those under the age of 18 have to abide by certain rules as set up by each state. For example, some states require that all drivers under the age of 16 have a parent or adult in the car at all times while driving. In other states, young drivers can be on the road alone but only during certain hours of the day.
  • All states have one thing in common: there are actually many more in-class hours required when taking driver’s education than there are required hours behind the wheel. While this may not make a lot of sense, it’s done for good reason. Simply put, the rules of the road are so voluminous and often times confusing (like memorizing who gets to go first when all cars arrive at a four-way stop at the same time) that it’s better to slowly expose an inexperienced driver with all of that first, before actually subjecting them to the sometimes stressful experience of first-time driving.

Being a first-time driver is no piece of cake. In some areas of the country, there are so many hoops to jump through and expensive bills to pay before a teenager will be allowed to get behind the wheel legally that some might say it’s not worth the trouble. But the next time you’re fed up and frustrated about the rules and restrictions having to do with driver’s ed requirements, just remember – it could be a lot worse somewhere else.