Since July 18, Arizona teenagers have been required by law to be better prepared before they can be set free behind the wheel of a car.
The new law requires all driver's license applicants under 18 years of age to hold an instructional permit for a minimum of five months before they can apply for a standard driver's license.
This change is an extension of the Arizona Graduate Drivers License Law, which was implemented Jan. 1. The graduate law requires all underage applicants to first complete 25 hours of supervised driving practice, including five hours at night, or to complete a formal driver's education class.
And while most 15- and 16-year-olds may disagree with us, we believe these laws are good ones and can reduce the number of new-driver vehicle accidents.
Before these law changes took effect, a 15-year-old applicant could walk into the local department of motor vehicles the day before his 16th birthday and apply for an instructional permit. He could then go to the DMV office the next day and receive his standard driver's license and hit the road unsupervised and with little or no driving experience.
Now, in theory, our young drivers will have five months of driving experience with 25 hours of actual practice time before they are allowed the privilege of driving unsupervised on Arizona roadways.
But the law changes go further than just asking the student driver to be better prepared they call for more parental involvement and even go so far as to hold parents and guardians responsible for their young drivers' actions.
If parents become more involved in teaching their children to drive, and if they are honest when certifying the required practice time, our roads will be safer. These laws were not designed to keep young drivers off the road, they were created to help save lives theirs and ours.
For more information on the new driver's license laws you can pick up a pamphlet at the Payson Motor Vehicles office at 200 W. Frontier, or call toll free (800) 251-5866.