Keeping Maryland’s teenagers safe while driving is a priority. Crash rates are at their peak during a young driver’s initial several years behind the wheel. The State Graduated License System is administered by the MD Motor Vehicle Administration and is designed to allow newly-licensed drivers to gain more experience before taking the wheel themselves. Ultimately, it can save both lives and money by imposing stricter sanctions than many other states. During a teen’s initial months of operating a vehicle, crash rates are the highest, so comprehensive training is critical.
The MD Rookie Driver program is designed to help potential drivers that are not (and never have been) licensed. Although the vast majority of participants are under the age of 18, there is no age prerequisite. The concept is simple – Encourage help and supervision by more experienced persons, and educate and train through three levels of licensing (instead of one or two). Often, persons new to the area, legal immigrants, and licensed drivers wanting to refresh their skills, will enroll in these types of programs.
Teen crashes unnecessarily take lives, and can often be prevented. Several of the most common-occurring traits include driving too fast, consuming alcohol before or while driving, single-vehicle accident involvement, driving in the evening, not using a seat belt, driving through stop signs or red lights, driver error, and additional teenagers also as passengers. Crash rates for new drivers are 10 times higher than adults, so proper training is critical. Immaturity and inexperience are major factors that lead to highway incidents.
Typically, more males than females are involved in these types of accidents. The 18-20 age group has the highest crash percentage, and Baltimore County leads the state in vehicular accidents. Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties had the next highest reported related crashes. Fridays and Saturdays are the most common days for these types of incidents.
Get Your Learner’s Permit
If you’re at least 15 years and 9 months old, you’re in luck. A School Attendance Certificate form must be provided and signed by a parent. The form can be found here. Of course, you must reside in Maryland and show proper identification along with passing a written and vision exam. A current manual will be provided that will be needed for the written exam. The sample exam consists of only five questions and takes less than two minutes to complete. About half of first-time applicants fail the exam, so reviewing the online test tutorial is recommended.
The free test tutorial can be very helpful since about half of all applicants fail to pass the first attempted exam. Several sample questions (multiple choice) are below:
You are car A and the traffic in front of you has stopped. You should…
When a law enforcement officer signals you to pull over, you should…
When driving in fog, it is best to drive with…
When sharing the road with large trucks, other drivers should…
In work zones, you should…
20 minutes is provided to successfully pass the actual knowledge test, and a minimum score of 88% correct is required. Several topics are included, with a total of 25 questions for each section. Topics reviewed include proper stopping distances, meaning of road signs, how to proceed at a railroad crossing, stooping for school buses, hydroplaning and skidding, merging into traffic, construction zones, and funeral processions.
Some of the topics required to know include licensing requirements, signals, signs and pavement markings, and coping with different road conditions. A sample exam is also available online that will help determine your level of preparation needed to pass the test. AAA provided the exam link and questions. NOTE: If you have not yet reached age 16, form DL-300 is required (Learner’s Permit School Attendance Certification).
During the practicing stage, an adult (must be 21 years or older) must be sitting in the front seat with no other occupants. Documenting and discussing practice sessions is highly recommended and helps the new driver understand unfamiliar situations that may have arisen. A 3-hour alcohol and drug education program is offered by several providers and can be very helpful to novice drivers.
Under Age 18?
If under the age of 18, cell phone use is prohibited! If you use a cellphone or other wireless product, a suspension could be implemented. The permit is effective for nine months and there must be no violations or at-fault accidents during that time. And of course, liability insurance that meets the minimum state requirements must be in effect at all times.
Tip: There are many car insurance companies in Maryland that offer affordable prices for teens. Our guide may help you find the best options. You can view our most recent analysis here. Naturally, there are many different policies, depending on your driving record, the type of car you own and other factors.
Proof of residency, age and social security number will be required during the registration phase. Documents must be original and readable. A faxed or copied document can not take the place of the original. Also, there can be no alterations or it will be rejected and a duplicate will be requested.
Once the learner’s permit is issued, it is valid for two years, so there is ample time to practice driving (supervised, of course!) and thoroughly understand rules of the road. The minimum amount of time the permit must be held is nine months and there can be no moving violations during this time. However, if you are 25 years old (or older), your period of time is 45 days, assuming all requirements have been met.
Get A Provisional License
Getting a provisional license is the second step in the three-step process. Some of the requirements include being at least 16 1/2 years old, completing an approved driver-education course (and making sure it is electronically submitted) and completing 60 hours of supervised driving. A special log must be provided that documents times and details. Supervised operation of the vehicle is not required, but using a cell phone (including hands-free devices) is not permitted, and no passengers may be in the vehicle.
A provisional licensee that has not reached their 18th birthday is also not able to drive past midnight, unless a passenger is over age 20 and has been driving for at least three years. Some of the most common exceptions include driving to or from work, participating in an approved volunteer program, an athletic event that requires participation (not observing!), and a class or event that is school-approved.
Also, passengers must be over the age of 17 at all times, unless they are a member of the family or there is an adult present in the vehicle. Although many of these rules and laws are restrictive, by delaying the full-licensing, MD highways become a little bit more safer. Note: Baltimore County usually has the most accidents involving younger drivers. Montgomery, Anne Arundel, and Prince George Counties also rank high. Saturdays and Fridays are the most accident-filled days.
During this time, if an operator receives probation or a conviction, the 18-month process starts over, as all driving skills and law tests will have to be taken again. Attending a “driver improvement program” will also be required. Additional violations will result in a license suspension. After four violations, the license will be revoked. Violation of an alcohol restriction will result in mandatory participation in the ignition interlock program. If the driver declines, an immediate six-month license suspension will result.
Finally! Get Your Full License!
Assuming your learner’s permit did not expire, (if it did, you have to pay fees again and start the process over) you’re ready to obtain full driving privileges. This assumes you had the provisional license for at least 18 months with no violations. If the applicant is under age 21, then no alcohol-related incidences must have occurred. If all other requirements have been fulfilled, the a full license is issued. Hooray! Cell phone and texting laws should also be reviewed.
Restrictions on night-driving and passenger-requirements are removed, although a parent or guardian should always set some “ground rules.” For example, limitations on the number of passengers in the vehicle or length of travel distance are two common ideas. Also, it is possible for the parent or guardian to revoke the license of any person under age 18, if written consent is provided.
Correspondence is sent through the mail and once the renewal charge is paid, the certificate is issued. One of the most important items to remember is regarding the insurance on the vehicle. The minimum requirements must be met (bodily injury per person/accident and property damage). Otherwise, a severe fine and/or suspension could result. A leased or financed vehicle may require higher limits and collision and comprehensive coverage. Current required bodily injury limits are $20,000 per person and $40,000 per occurrence, along with an additional $20,000 of property damage. It is not recommended to immediately purchase and title a vehicle in the new driver’s name.
Some Important Tips
You’re behind the wheel and it’s just you in the vehicle. It’s a huge responsibility you owe to yourself, and just as importantly, others on the road. Although a “good student” discount reduces insurance rates, acting responsibly (which means no texting or talking while driving) must be clearly understood. It’s an exciting time, but also a time to be cautious and extremely cognizant of other vehicles. Distractions must be minimized, and road conditions must always be considered.
We also recommend taking one of several optional education programs that are available throughout the year. The Motor Vehicle Administration does not formally specifically suggest using specific providers, although they do establish some of the regulations that govern the companies that offer these classes. Some of the available programs include:
Alcohol And Drug Education
Wellness And Safety
Rookie Driver And Education
Fees and costs, locations, dates of course offerings, and prior materials needed will vary, depending on the program. Additional details are available by contacting us or the Motor Vehicle Administration.
Impact Of Young Drivers On Your MD Car Insurance Policy
Also, as we have discussed in several other pages on this website, the state minimum liability requirements must always be met. Currently at $20,000 per person, $40,000 per accident and $15,000 of property damage, when someone under age 21 is present in the household, it’s very important to raise these coverages. Recommended limits are at least $50,000/$100,000/$50,000. Leased vehicles typically require higher limits.
Although your rates increase because of adding a youthful risk, many companies gradually reduce the cost, as the number of years of driving experience increases. Break points usually occur at three and five years, so by the time they have graduated college, two cost reductions will have been applied. And of course, good grades always make a big difference. An additional discount is generally applied if a policyholder is under age 30 and gets married.
There are numerous safety programs for young Maryland drivers offered by the Motor Vehicle Administration. We urge parents to utilize these free Maryland programs to help educate their new young drivers in the household. Some of the most popular topics include Bicycle Safety, Regional Traffic Safety, Distracted Driving, Aggressive Drivers and Kids, The School Bus And You. Many defensive-driving courses are offered through local companies. Several available Driving School providers include: Allsafe, EZ, Easy Method, A Widmyer, Uncle Sam, B & E, and AAA Mid-Atlantic.
Motorcycle owners can choose between a Basic or Alternative Rider course. Although completely voluntary, for persons under age 18, it is mandatory. There are about 20 training centers located throughout the state. New and veteran riders will find the course to be very helpful. Special skills and unique mental strategies are taught to drivers to help them operate more safely. Currently, 9 out of 10 riders that were involved in accidents, were not formally trained. More than 100,000 riders have participated in these types of programs. It is important to be properly trained, licensed, and to be familiar with the cycle you are driving.
Helmets should always be worn. Substantial injuries (and medical expenses) can be saved with the helmet properly fastened. Vehicle drivers should also be aware of cyclists, and also must yield the right of way when turning left in an intersection. Extra space should be given, especially in rainy, snowy, or windy conditions. Occasionally, packs of motorcycles may be participating in an organized event, and extra caution should be used. Note: Drivers are likely to be at fault when involved in a crash with a motorcycle.
Town And Country Driving School, who for many years helped residents of the state complete their on-road requirements, has shut down. However, their documents and records are currently being uploaded to the Motor Vehicle Administration. If you were in the middle of completing a course but were not able to finish, you can contact (410) 787-7769 for assistance regarding finishing the program.
If you have lost money, or have not received an expected refund, a surety bond claim form can be completed and forwarded to the underwriting company. Often, within 4-10 weeks, a reimbursement is received. Meanwhile, drivers can complete their testing at another licensed school. Your existing records from the Town And Country Driving School can be used and you will only have to complete the remaining requirements.