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    Maryland is one of numerous states that have set out to reduce accidents associated with teen driving by installing a graduated licensing system. The program, called the Rookie Driver Program in Maryland, requires a prospective driver to endure a wealth of verifiable training in order to even receive a license. And that license will be provisional for a 18 months.

    In that time, if you receive a traffic citation the 18 months starts over. So there is definitely little room for error under the new system. That does not mean, however, that you need to get into a high-speed chase and try to outrun the officers if they attempt to pull you over.

    Going with that decision will not only send you back to the beginning of the provisional period but you may wind up in jail. Hopefully, with the testing or studying you have already gone through, and the training still yet to come, you will be a confident driver and make solid choices.

    A bit of driver education ought to help with that, also. And if you do not want to hang onto your learner's permit forever (unless as a memento), then you will need plenty of instruction, both formal and informal.

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    Driver Education Courses

    Back in the day, it was a right of passage for a high school sophomore to use an elective on Driver's Ed. It was an easy A. Plus, you got to watch all sorts of educational films, hang out with your friends, and drive old four-door sedans. Although those days are not too far behind us, things have definitely changed. Many schools no longer even offer driver's education.

    Still others have gone to the simulation method, opting to use created environments rather than real road settings. While simulators have proven to be effective, there is still nothing like getting in the driver's seat, buckling up, and starting the car.

    In Maryland, you will either need to sign up for your high school course or enroll in a class offered by one of the numerous third-party companies around the state. Choosing a course can be taxing, considering the number available.

    Just make sure that whatever you decide, the course's curriculum meets the standard requirements of the state: 30 hours of classroom learning and 6 hours of behind-the-wheel guidance.

    Hanging With the Folks

    While being a teenager means you tend to spend a good deal of time rebelling against your parents, the state of Maryland invites cooperation when it comes to driving. Well at least for 60 hours. Because that is how many hours you will need to record in a log in order to obtain your provisional license. That doesn't say anything about how good it will make your mom or dad feel to help you out with such an important life passage―something you will take with you for the rest of your life.

    The Skills Log & Practice Guide you were handed with your learner's permit has an excellent breakdown of how you might utilize your required 60 practice hours, 10 of which need to be at night. Following this guide will ensure that you assemble the necessary skills to ace the driving test and succeed as a licensed driver. It's also a great guide for supervising drivers to use to make sure you're learning the basics and then building up from there.

    Note: You can also have a guardian or driver over 21 years of age who has held a license for more than 3 years help with the coaching.

    Tips for New Drivers

    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.

    Find more teen-related driving information at Practice Tests, Teen Drivers, and Driver Education on this site.


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