Category Archive: Learners Permit Tips

Driving in other states on a restricted license

Taking Your Restricted Drivers License Across State Lines

Restricted license sure is a step-up from a learner’s permit, but it’s still not the unrestricted, seemingly-special license and for good reason. The graduated driving license (GDL) laws are designed to introduce teen drivers gradually into the driving environment by limiting distractions such as other teen passengers and cell phone use. The laws also restrict driving at night until the teen has gained a lot of driving experience. The GDL laws in your state may allow you to drive alone under certain circumstances but that law may not apply in other states.

No one under 18 – Most states only consider drivers eligible for application of the unrestricted license if they are over the age of 18. However other states, such as New York, prohibit unrestricted driving by anyone under the age of 21, even if they hold an unrestricted license in another state.

Each state’s DMV honors restriction put about by your state – If you receive a ticket in another state, your home state will be notified and your driving record will show the traffic offense just as if had been committed in your home state. Whatever points your home state applies to a particular offense will be added to your driving record. If you are caught violating the restricted driving rules of your state, you could be charged with driving without a valid license.

Double Trouble – If you commit a traffic offense in another state, you will have to pay the fines for that state and you will find that you will have points assessed in your own state. If the offense committed in another state puts you over the point limit in your home state, you could find that your license has been suspended. If your license is suspended in one state, all other states will honor that suspension.

Holding a driver’s license, even a restricted one means being responsible and following restrictions put about by the driver’s state. If you plan to travel to another state, you can go to that state’s DMV web site and find out if your privilege to drive in that state will be more or less restricted. It is better to do the homework first rather than finding out too late by receiving a traffic ticket.

For more information about driving laws visit your state see our DMV Department of Motor Vehicles Directory.

How Active Participation Helps Teens Understand Safe Driving Concepts

Most adults understand that teens tend to tune out long lectures about safe driving (or anything else), but parents and teachers also know that they have important messages to pass on, and they are sometimes at a loss as to other methods of doing so. Creative thinking in terms of teaching methods, both in the home and at school, can mean the difference between messages that teens will ignore versus those they will integrate into their driving behavior. This is so important with driving; motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for teens in the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Obviously, lectures aren’t working.

Recently, First Coast News of Jacksonville, FL profiled four teenagers who had created a Public Service Announcement (PSA) to promote safe driving. The PSA shows a teen driving while listening to music, eating, and using a cell phone to talk and text; she eventually glances at the road just in time to see that it’s too late to avoid a motor vehicle crash.

Reporters quizzed the teens on whether or not they’d ever performed any of these unsafe driving behaviors. The teens admitted to doing so but also said that making the PSA had heightened their awareness of how dangerous these behaviors are, which had caused them to curb the behavior. The teens said that creating the PSA had made the consequences of distracted driving, such as getting into a crash and being seriously injured, seem real. This is more of an accomplishment than one might think; teens’ brains are not biologically developed enough for them to control impulses and understand the consequences of their behavior, which is why convincing them to drive safely is such an uphill battle.

Another benefit of this type of active participation is that these teens became positive role models for their peers, influencing them to drive more safely. Peer pressure is a reality that must not be ignored; many teens perform more (both in intensity and in number) risky driving behaviors when they are accompanied by teen passengers. Whether the teen driver is bowing to external pressure from friends or internal pressure to show off, the effect is the same. The key is not to try to convince teens to disregard peer pressure, an almost impossible task, but to convert the peer pressure into a positive influence.

Making the PSA also had the effect of helping these teens take responsibility for their driving behavior. Again, this is typically a difficult task. Teens have a variety of sources, legitimate and irrational, to blame for their poor choices; reaching maturity means accepting responsibility for their decisions and the attendant consequences, along with realizing that they are the ones who make the ultimate decision to be safe drivers.

Listening to a lecture is a passive process; making a PSA is an active process because it forces the teen to engage with and think about safe driving concepts. Of course, having every teen in America make a PSA about safe driving would be a logistical nightmare, and due to teens’ short attention spans, the experience would soon wear thin. But the concept of having teens participate in an active learning process about safe driving could be utilized in every household and in every school.

Before assigning an active-participation project to teens, consider their interests. Most teens love music, popular television shows, being with friends, and talking about themselves. Most teens are self-conscious about their appearance and are interested in grooming, clothes, and accessories. Many teens also have a special hobby, such as gaming, art, computers, writing, or sports. Many are also interested in exploring new ideas – the perfect time to let them get creative with how to disseminate safe driving messages. Ideas include:

  • Designing a poster or series of posters
  • Writing a song, using computer software to write accompanying music
  • Writing an episode of their favorite television show
  • Performing a skit with friends
  • Giving their own “presidential address”
  • Designing a clothing/accessory line
  • Creating a video game

To avoid boredom, vary the topics assigned to the teen, but for maximum benefit, assign topics that relate to common teen driving mistakes, such as:

To further engage their critical thinking skills, have teens present their messages from other points of view. For example, teens who are interested in politics can give a presidential address about enacting laws to lower teen deaths in motor vehicle crashes; teens who are interested in sports can create an advertising campaign showing how drinking and drugs can impair athletic ability. Until the project is finished, try to provide encouragement and support without too much assistance; let teens follow the research and learning process to its logical conclusion.

Helping teens engage in an active learning process regarding safe driving behavior is a requirement for reducing the teen death rate on our nation’s roadways.

Driver Education: How Cough Medicine Affects Driving

Many parents who warn their teens repeatedly not to use illegal drugs are unaware of the temptation and risk posed by over-the-counter medications such as cough medicine. But cough medicine provides an inexpensive, easily accessible high to one out of 11 teens, according to the Partnership for a Drug-free America. And teens are often ignorant of or in denial about the risks posed by over-the-counter medicines which, they reason, are safe and legal. A 2008 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study indicated that only 45% of teens think taking cough medicine to get high is hazardous. Teens may not consider that though dextromethorphan (DXM) is safe to take in the recommended 15-to 30-milligram dose, they are likely to consume 360 milligrams or more in the effort to get high.

The effects of overdosing on DXM include:

    • Confusion
    • Impaired judgment
    • Blurred vision
    • Slurred speech
    • Dizziness
    • Nausea and vomiting
    • Excessive sweating
    • Loss of motor control
    • Dissociative (out-of-body) sensations
    • Paranoia
    • Hallucinations
    • Irregular heartbeat
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Seizures
    • Brain damage
    • Death

The situation becomes even more dangerous when teens abuse drugs they believe are safe and then get behind the wheel. To make matters worse, many teens who experiment with using cough medicine to get high do so when they are already under the influence of another drug, such as alcohol. This intensifies the effects, and, of course, makes driving riskier.

Information on how to abuse DXM is readily available on the internet and via teens’ friends, so parents must counteract it with information of their own – and with vigilance. Here are some tips for parents:

  • Familiarize yourself with the basics of cough medicine abuse. Words to watch for (on your teen’s internet history) and listen for include Dex, DXM, Robo, Robo-ing, Robo- tripping, Skittles, Skittling, Syrup, Triple-C, and Tussin. DXM is found in syrups, lozenges, tablets, capsules, and gel caps labeled DM, cough suppressant, or tuss, or include the word “tuss” in the name.
  • Include discussions about the risks of abusing over-the-counter drugs in your regular talks with your teen. Explain the difference between therapeutic dosages and overdosing, as well as the effects. Tell your teen that you want to know whenever they need to take any medication for any reason.
  • Lock your medicine cabinet or keep medicines that contain DXM in a location that isn’t accessible to your teen. Keep track of how much medicine is in each container. Avoid buying multiples of medicines that contain DXM; doing so can be tempting to teens, and also makes it more difficult for you to keep track of the total amount of medicine in your household.
  • Observe your teen, your teen’s bedroom and bathroom, and recreational areas carefully for medicinal smells and empty cough medicine containers.

Tips for Teens: Safe Fourth of July Driving

Though teens cannot legally celebrate the Fourth of July with alcohol, teen drivers still have to contend with intoxicated drivers on the road. Summer is always a dangerous time for teen drivers; they are at particular risk on holiday weekends.

Risk factors for teens on the road during holiday weekends include:
-Due to their limited driving experience, teens often have difficulty handling emergency situations; for example, they might try to pass a driver who keeps drifting into their lane.
-Teens may have trouble recognizing when other drivers might be impaired and neglect to allow an adequate space cushion between their vehicle and the vehicles of those drivers. For example, they may tailgate a vehicle traveling far below the speed limit.
-Teens often have poor impulse control, which could lead them into playing traffic games with aggressive or impaired drivers, such as racing from one traffic light to another.
-Teens may be so preoccupied with their own driving that they fail to notice the actions of other drivers.

Here are some tips on how to recognize an impaired driver:
-their vehicle is straddling two lanes
-they have a close call, such as nearly hitting a parked car
-they make wide, clumsy turns
-they are traveling well below the speed limit (10 mph or more)
-they are following too closely
-they are braking erratically or stopping at inappropriate places (such as at an intersection with a green traffic light)
-their headlights aren’t on at night, or they leave their turn signal on for a prolonged time

Teens can use defensive driving techniques for safe holiday driving:
-Always wear your safety belt. This is your best defense against impaired drivers.
-Obey the speed limit. Driving too fast means you have less space to respond to hazards.
-Avoid being distracted from watching the road by noisy passengers, loud music, or using a cell phone.
-Maintain an adequate space cushion on all sides between your vehicle and other vehicles. If you notice someone driving erratically, increase your space cushion.
-Observe the behavior of other drivers, but keep your eyes moving; don’t get so distracted that you miss another hazard.

Teen drivers can report possible impaired drivers to local law enforcement, but parents should make sure their teens understand that they must pull off the road and stop before using a cell phone.


Driver Education: Commentary Driving

For most parents who are teaching their teens to drive, using commentary driving seems to make perfect sense. But like many other simple tasks, commentary driving is not always easy to do well, and if done improperly, can be frustrating for both the parent and teen.

Since commentary driving involves speaking out loud while driving, parents should model it for teens well before they allow the teen behind the wheel of the vehicle. Teens are likely to feel self-conscious about the process (and parents may, too), so several lessons just on the method itself will be helpful. Parents should emphasize the fundamentals; for example, taking note of the speed limit every time they enter a new street and watching for pedestrians in every crosswalk.

Just as they would with any other driving lesson, parents should begin practicing commentary driving in a relatively simple driving environment and progress to more complex situations, such as driving on the expressway. Each lesson in a new driving environment should be preceded by a demonstration by the parent of commentary driving in that environment; this allows teens to absorb some of the new hazards they will encounter from the safety of the passenger seat.

One purpose of commentary driving is to focus the driver’s attention on her or his thoughts, which in turn helps to maintain a high level of alertness. This is particularly helpful with teens, who may be struggling to overcome the excitement of finally getting to drive enough to focus on the process. It’s also helpful to parents, who otherwise might experience great anxiety as they wonder whether or not their teen has noticed hazards ahead, such as other drivers drifting out of their lanes or following too closely or cars parked on the side of the street.

While commentary driving involves talking while driving, the content of the discussion should be specific and targeted to the driving environment. The driver maintains a running list of observations and actions. An example of commentary driving is: “Approaching intersection….green light….car in oncoming lane waiting to turn left….checking mirrors….light still green….checking intersection….crossing intersection….”. Comments that are general, i.e., “checking ahead,” are not helpful because they don’t increase the awareness level of the driver. The person commenting should say what they see and how they plan to handle what they see.

Parents should resist the temptation to interject into teens’ comments unless absolutely necessary. Questions such as, “What would it mean if that traffic light was yellow?” and “How many seconds should your following distance be if it starts raining right now?” distract teens from what’s in front of them and teach them to rely on someone else’s observations instead of making their own. Parents should make note of any discussion points on a log and cover them at the end of the lesson when the vehicle is parked.

If teens get distracted and stop commenting, parents should encourage them to return to the process with general comments like, “Keep going; tell me everything you’re seeing and what you’re going to do.” When teens repeatedly stop commenting, they may be tired or overwhelmed, signaling that the lesson should end. After the lesson, parents can point out that when drivers stop commenting, their level of alertness goes down.

Parents can also ask questions that help teens understand how commentary driving works after the lesson is over. For example, ask, “Could you practice commentary driving while talking on your cell phone? How do you think talking on a cell phone affects a person’s driving?”

Commentary driving can be an effective driver education tool if used properly; parents who invest time and energy in the process help their teens to be better, safer drivers.