Currently, 15-year-old drivers in North Carolina may obtain practical experience by driving with a parent in the vehicle, but this is optional. At age 16, a person can obtain a license without any driving practice beyond that obtained in a Driver Education course – approximately six hours. Although the simple skills of steering, turning, stopping and starting may be mastered in six hours of practice, the complex decision-making and information-processing skills at the heart of safe driving are learned through extensive practice and exposure to a variety of driving situations.
Requiring a parent to be in the car is designed primarily to improve the safety of the driving conditions. It will discourage impulsive, irresponsible, dangerous behaviors to which young drivers often fall victim, especially when they are with their peers. Even though parents are not trained instructors and may not even be particularly good drivers, they do provide a key element of safety for their children merely by being in the car. It is expected that having acquired a substantial amount of practical, on-the-road experience, young drivers will be less likely to engage in impulsive, risky actions when they drive.
When teens begin to drive without an adult in the car, their crash rate increases sharply. Negotiating a parent-teen driving agreement can help to keep teens from driving in the most risky conditions. Use this sample driving agreement as a starting point.
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