Drivers Ed in Pennsylvania
Unlike most states, Pennsylvania does not absolutely require its teen drivers to take driver education. But if you don't, you can't get a full license until you're 18.
If you're willing to wait that long, then 50 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel practice is the lone "education" requirement mandated by the Department of Transportation to get a license. It's often solely up to the parents to make sure their young driver learns the laws and the lessons they need to. However, driver education has its merits―and the state of Pennsylvania makes it easy for you to enroll.
Through the Pennsylvania Department of Education, the state offers a comprehensive driver education program that is taught in high schools and colleges throughout the commonwealth. It's a unique program in that it teaches more than just standard driving skills. Thirty hours of classroom study are devoted to a variety of often-overlooked driving aspects such as the importance of maintaing constant visual and mental focus, decision-making, and the effects of alcohol.
An additional six hours are devoted to on-road training. The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) does allow these hours to apply toward the state's 50-hour requirement, but in many cases you will have already completed the 50 hours before enrolling in driver's ed (so you'll get the six hours anyway).
You may also get all this training at state-approved third-party driver education schools. This could be the way to go if you want to enroll during summer break.
If you want to upgrade your junior license to a regular license before you turn 18 (the earliest you can do this is at 17 1/2), then you are required to complete a state-approved driver's education course. You will be asked to attach your certificate of completion to your Application for Change from a Junior License to a Regular Noncommercial License. Without completing driver's ed, you will have to wait until you're 18 to be upgraded to the full unrestricted license.
If in the end you don't wind up taking driver's ed, then you'll need to rely on other sources to learn the rules of the road. Besides your parents, other invaluable tools include the Pennsylvania Driver's Manual and PennDOT's Crossroads page, designed specifically for teenagers.Local Drivers Education
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- MC Kean
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