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For something that requires as much skill, dexterity, coordination, and concentration as driving, classroom instruction is not enough. Once you're done with the classroom portion of your driving class you'll have the opportunity to hop into a car with an instructor and take it for a spin. Several spins, actually―you'll need to clock at least 50 hours of driving to get a junior license.
With a certificate of completion from a prelicensing course (Form MV-278) and 50 hours of supervised practice driving, you may schedule a road test (click "How to Schedule" at this link) and apply for a driver license.
Many of the same driving schools that offer prelicensing courses also offer hourly driving lessons where you may get some of this practice. Applicants under 18 years old who obtained Form MV-278 must have a parent or guardian sign the 50 hours Certification of Supervised Driving (Form MV-262), to be eligible for a junior license.
If you instead completed a high school or college driver education course and received an MV-285 certificate, you don't need to certify that you've had the 50 hours of practice driving; you will have done that during your course.
The New York Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) requires these driver education courses to provide classroom instruction, driving observation, and behind-the-wheel driving instruction. Some of the same driving schools that provide hourly driving lessons to those who take the prelicensing course also contract with high schools to offer the behind-the wheel instruction there. You will be eligible to have your license converted from a junior to a senior license once you turn 17 years old, if you have an MV-285 certificate.
While driving lessons and driver education are a great start, the DMV requires even more practice driving before you schedule your road test: at least 50 hours total, 15 hours at night. With a learner's permit, you may get this practice with anyone over 21 years old who has a driver license and is legally allowed to supervise a junior driver, but the DMV warns that you are much more likely to pass your road test if you take professional driving lessons too, either from a driving school or in a driver education course.
The DMV wants you to pass your road test and obtain your driver license, so it has compiled a list of road test tips that might help you on the big day. The road test is short, but that can feel like an eternity when you're feeling nervous and on-the-spot. This list should help you feel prepared and confident.
Even though you took the courses, practiced for hours, and passed your licensing test, you're bound to encounter unexpected situations when you start driving regularly―at any age. Here's a little friendly advice for new drivers from someone who's been there. Reality can throw you some curveballs, and 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 without squeezing the cup and spewing sticky soda everywhere.
- 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. The 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.
- Do listen to your stereo at a low enough volume that you can hear emergency sirens. 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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