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You've always heard that going the extra mile pays off in the end. And when it comes to driver training, this statement could not be truer. The more experience you get behind the wheel, and the more effort you put into learning the ins and outs of safe driving, the better. Not just for you, but for everyone with whom you share the road.
During the program, you will learn valuable rules of the road with teens your own age. While it may be tempting to sign up with a buddy, keep in mind that focusing on the course material and taking the class seriously should be your priority.
Sure, it's fun to be in a class where you know you'll have some friends who you can goof off with. But if you think they'll distract you from really learning the material well, consider what's more important: sharing a class with friends or learning safe driving practices that could save your life. When it comes to driving, safety always takes precedence.
For those between the ages of 14 1/2 and 21, you can attend a program offered by your public school district (most Idaho school districts offer driver training). You don't actually have to be a public school student to take a training course at a public school.
You also have the option of attending a commercial school approved by the Department of Education. You can download a current list of licensed commercial schools and instructors to help you locate one nearest you.
Choose the program that best suits you and get ready to rack up some classroom hours―30 to be exact. You'll also spend six hours of in-car observation in a driver-training car and six hours behind the wheel with an instructor in your passenger seat.
Have you just moved to Idaho? If you are younger than 17 and have already undergone a driver training program in another state, chances are you won't have to take an Idaho class. You will need to provide acceptable documentation of course completion that meets or exceeds Idaho's standards. Whether you received a license in that state does not matter.
But if the program does not match up with Idaho's classroom requirements, you will find yourself in the seat of a state-approved driver training course. If you don't have an out-of-state license, you will have to spend some supervised time behind the wheel before you can obtain a driver's license.
Let's say you are younger than 17 and you have an out-of-state license but you never completed or passed an approved driver training program. In that case, the state requires you to surrender your license and then enroll in driver training.
But it's not as bad as it seems. For one, you can skip the supervised training portion of the course. Or you can wait until your 17th birthday, apply for a driver's license, and skip driver training altogether. The catch: you can only use an out-of-state license for the first 90 days of residency before the state requires you to obtain an Idaho license.
Once you have selected either a public school program or a commercial one, you are on your way―as soon as you get a driver training/supervised instruction permit. All course programs require it. Be sure to confirm with the school that you have been accepted to its program before purchasing a permit.
Permits for public school and commercial programs are not the same, are not interchangeable, and have different nonrefundable fees. Before you head over to the nearest driver's license office, be sure you have all the necessary documents in tow.
See chapter one, pages 1-5 through 1-7, of the Driver's Manual for a list of what you'll need. (It's the same list of requirements you will come across when you apply for a license). Note that your certified original birth certificate must bear either your mother's or father's name for liability signer purposes.
After you have jumped through this first set of hoops, you will have a permit that allows you to start the supervised instruction period. You can drive with a driver training instructor for up to a year, as long as he/she has signed your permit upon completion of the driver training program.
Here's a little friendly advice for new drivers from someone who's been there. They don't teach you everything in school!
- Don't order mega-size drinks at the drive-through. They tip over in the drink holders when you turn or stop, and if you hold the drink between your legs for stability, then you can't operate the floor pedals.
- Don't try to eat a sandwich or burger while you're driving. The mayonnaise-covered tomatoes will fall into your lap and you'll have to make a snap decision between swerving to the curb (bad) or leaving the grease stain on your jeans (bad).
- Don't make or receive calls on your cell phone while you are driving. It's bad karma, everyone else on the road will be irritated with you, and you won't realize you're going too slow and swerving all over the place until you cause an accident. Same goes for applying makeup while driving: just don't!
- Don't under any circumstances send a text message when you're at the wheel. The police officer won't be sympathetic when you explain that you absolutely, positively could not wait until you pulled off the road to text "c u soon" to your best friend, so instead you rear-ended someone while your eyes and thumbs were busy on the keypad.
- Don't be lame and give in to peer pressure. If some nimrod in the back seat says, "How fast can this thing go?" ignore them―they're not the one who will get busted or cause an accident. Someone in the car has to be the grown-up: you.
- Don't panic and jump out of the car if you notice a bee on the inside of the windshield. Ever seen your car roll down the street without a driver? You don't want to.
- Do wear your seatbelt every time you get into a car, even for a short ride. Something as common as stopping suddenly to avoid a cat darting across the street can cause your face to meet your steering wheel. The results won't be pretty, and your prom date will find an excuse to back out.
- Do be vigilant for other drivers who are not as with it as you are, and keep your distance. You never know when they will decide to enter your space (since they won't bother to signal), and the element of surprise isn't as fun on the road as it is at a birthday party.
- Do install a dog barrier in the back of your car before taking Rover for a ride. Rover will want to be in the front seat with you, and trying to swat him back with one hand while steering with the other is a sure way to take out a whole line of parked cars.
- Do obey speed limits so that you will have time to react should an unexpected obstacle (a person, another car, an animal) appear. Besides, no one will believe you got that huge dent going "only 10 miles an hour."
- Do listen to your stereo at a low enough volume that you can hear emergency sirens. Those fire trucks are a lot bigger than you, so you'll want to know one is approaching before it runs you over.
- Do take it easy, pay attention, and take the rules of the road seriously. In a few years when you can honestly say you've never had a ticket or an accident, people will respect you, and it will be an enormous point of pride.
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