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Since the passage of the graduated driver licensing law, no longer do 16-year-olds have a free pass to get behind the wheel and take to the roads. Today they need to train more intensively before being granted unrestricted driving privileges.
Instead of the gift of a full license, 16-year-olds who have already had an Instruction Permit may receive an Intermediate Permit. This permit gives them many of the same benefits of a regular license, but with a few key restrictions designed to keep them from encountering situations that are dangerous for inexperienced drivers.
There is a prerequisite for the Intermediate Permit. To get one, you need to hang out with your mom and dad so you can get some basic on-road driving experience with them in the car. The minimum number of hours you need to drive with an adult in the car before you can get the Intermediate Permit is 50. Ten of these hours need to be at night.
You'll need to prove to the Wyoming Department of Transportation that you drove these 50 hours. You can verify this by jotting your driving practice sessions down on a log, which your parents will need to sign off on.
Before you get the Intermediate Permit, you'll need an Instruction Permit. Once you have this permit, you can opt to enroll in your school's driver education program. Many school districts are cutting these programs due to fiscal constraints, but plenty of schools in Wyoming still offer the classes. If yours doesn't, you can try a community college―and you always have the option of a state-approved third-party provider.
The driver's education course must provide 30 hours of classroom training and a minimum of six hours of actual driving training. Earning a certificate of completion from a driver's education course allows you to skip the state driving test when you apply for your Intermediate Permit. This is not a bad way to go―sitting in a vehicle with a driving examiner ranks as one of the more nerve-wracking experiences of youth.
You can convert your Intermediate License to a full, unrestricted Wyoming driver's license as early as 16 1/2. That is, if you complete all the training and driver's education required under the graduated licensing system.
If you start the process of obtaining a driver's license after your 17th birthday, then you don't need to apply for an Instruction or Intermediate Permit, and you don't need to take any driver's education or driver training. As long as you're prepared to pass the written and road tests, you can simply apply for a Wyoming driver's license.
Driver's licenses and Intermediate Permits are different in style for those under the age of 21. The sleek style throws tradition to the wind by taking the standard horizontal license and turning it vertical. People in the business of checking IDs like it because it accentuates the dates the minor turns both 18 and 21 years of age.
We've put together an invaluable list of sensible tips for those new to the road―and it's also a great refresher for anyone with a driver's license. Consider it a little friendly advice 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.
- Be polite and share the road. You are in a two-ton vehicle; do not let it be an extension of your anger. Despite all your thinking to the contrary, you do not own the road. Others, including bicyclists, have a right be on it.
- Always watch out for pedestrians, especially the little ones.
- Watch out for creatures both big and small. Wyoming is populated with all sorts of wildlife that have a tendency to cross the road at the most inopportune times. So be extra cautious, especially at dusk, in known wildlife areas.
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