For many parents and guardians deciding when the appropriate time for their teens to get a driver license can be complicated and emotional. The South Dakota driver licensing program wants to work with you along with, law enforcement, and educational programs to make the transition as simple and safe as possible.
Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 killer of teens ages 16-19.
Teens are less likely than other drivers to wear seatbelts.
52% of teenage motor vehicle deaths in 2002 occurred on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.
41% of teenage motor vehicle deaths in 2002 occurred between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.
36% of all teen driving deaths are alcohol related.
A first driver license not only begs the question as to if your teen is ready; it is also a question as to if you are ready. The decision to get a driver license is should be partnership between guardians and teens to make the transition from the passenger seat to the driver seat as safe as possible.
Please keep in mind that as a parent or guardian you are the one that sets the standard for safe driving practices. Here are some steps to not only help you get ready for the transition, but also help your teen.
#1 - Using a seatbelt, obeying speed limits and adhering to traffic laws are the first steps to making sure that your teen is a safe driver. Whether you know it or not, your actions behind the wheel influences your teens action. "Monkey see, monkey do."
#2 - Take an active stance on coaching your teen, but leave the whistle at home. Taking the time to show him or her the ropes without pressure will not only help in the process of obtaining a license, but will also create very memorable experiences.
#3 - Create a Driving Agreement
To help your teen understand, take the time to review the issues and responsibilities associated with driving and consider making a Parent-Teen Driving Agreement using the outline below as a guide...
- Issue - Curfew
- Responsibility/Rule - Weekday evening curfew of 10 pm and a weekend evening curfew of midnight
- Agreement - Coming home after the curfew will result in the curfew being set one hour earlier for one week
#4 - Study the rules of the road with your teen. The more you know, the more they will learn. Plus, when you know the S.D. laws you can effectively protect your teen by enforcing and setting rules according to the restrictions that are applied to their permit. Click Here for a copy of the South Dakota Driver Manual.
#5 - Enforce all restrictions to the S.D. Instruction Permits and hold them accountable for their actions. South Dakota takes restriction violations very seriously and so should you. Any violation will result in suspension of the permit and could hinder the process of upgrading the license. Fines applied to violations are also applicable.
As a guardian, your consent is required for all driver license applicants under 18 years old.
To cancel the license or permit of a minor, the Department of Public Safety must receive a written request from the guardian who signed the minor's original application.
Instruction Permit - To obtain an Instruction Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision and knowledge test. The permit is valid for one year. Minors at least 14 years of age, but less than 18 years of age, must hold the valid permit continuously for 180 days (90 days if successful completion of an approved Department of Education driver education course) prior to upgrade of permit to a Restricted Minor's permit or Operator's License. If under 18 years of age and the Instruction Permit expires, a minor would be required to obtain another Instruction Permit for either the 90 or 180 day requirement.
An Instruction Permit holder is entitled to drive during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. if the motor vehicle is operated under the direction of a licensed driver 18 years of age or older with at least one year's driving experience. They must be present in the seat next to the person holding the Instruction Permit. During the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. the permit holder must be accompanied by a parent or guardian who is occupying a seat beside the driver.
Traffic Violations - If the Department receives record of a conviction for a traffic violation or a violation of the restricted permit for a minor under 16 years of age, the driving privileges shall be suspended for a period of thirty days or as otherwise required by law. A second conviction shall result in suspension of the driving privilege until the permit holder's sixteenth birthday, or for 90 days, whichever is longer. Receipt of a conviction for a Class 1 Misdemeanor of Felony will result in a suspension of the license until their 16th birthday or as required by law. If the department receives a conviction for a violation of the restrictions of the license for a minor 16 or 17 years of age, the driving privileges shall be suspended for 30 days for each convictions.
Restricted Minor's Permit - To obtain a Restricted Minor's Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge, and driving test, complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit, and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months prior to obtaining the Restricted Minor's Permit. You must show all documents that were required for the Instruction Permit. An individual up to age 18 years of age may hold a Restricted Minor's Permit. The permit is valid for 5 years.
Restrictions: A Restricted Minor's Permit is issued to a minor 14 to 17 years old allowing them to operate a motor vehicle with parental permission during the hours of 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. and during the hours of 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. if the minor's parent or legal guardian is occupying a seat beside the driver. Upon attaining age 18, permit converts to Operator's License.
Operator's License - To obtain an Operator's License, you must be at least 16 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge, and driving test If a minor is at least 16 years of age, but under 18 years of age, they must complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months prior to obtaining the Operator's License. The license is valid for 5 years. To renew an Operator's License, you must pass the vision test.
Motorcycle Instruction Permit - To obtain a Motorcycle Instruction Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge (car/truck and motorcycle) tests. Minors at least 14 years of age, but less than 18 years of age, must hold the valid permit continuously of 180 days (90 days if successful completion of an approved Department of Education & Cultural Affairs driver education course) prior to upgrade of the permit to a Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit or a person has successfully completed the nation motorcycle safety course, the Motorcycle Instruction Permit only needs to be held for 30 continuous days. The permit is valid for one year. If under 18 years of age and the Motorcycle Instruction Permit expires, the minor would be required to obtain another Instruction Permit for the required time.
Restrictions: The Motorcycle Instruction Permit holder may operate a motorcycle during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. if accompanied by a licensed motorcycle operator who is a least eighteen years of age, who has at least one year of driving experience and who is driving another motorcycle along with the permit holder. No Motorcycle Instruction Permit holder may carry another person on the motorcycle.
Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit - To obtain a Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit, you must be at least 14 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge (car/truck and motorcycle) tests, and motorcycle drive test, complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit and have not been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months prior to obtaining the Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit. An individual up to age 18 years of age may hold a Motorcycle Restricted Minor's Permit. The permit is valid for 5 years
Restrictions: Entitles the holder, while having the permit in his immediate possession, to operate a motorcycle during the hours of 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. if the motorcycle is being operated with the permission of the minor's parent of legal guardian.
Motorcycle Operator's License - To obtain a Motorcycle License, you must be at least 16 years of age and pass the vision, knowledge (car/truck and motorcycle) tests, and motorcycle driving test. If a minor is at least 16 years of age, but under 18 years of age, they must complete the requirements of the Instruction Permit and not have been convicted of a traffic violation during the past six months prior to obtaining the Motorcycle Operator's License. The license is valid for 5 years or on the same date as the expiration date on the valid documents authorizing the applicant's presence in the United States, whichever occurs first.
Duplicate License - When a duplicate license is obtained, your license will retain the original license expiration date. To obtain a duplicate license you must provide proof of identity, date of birth, and lawful status, proof of your social security number, and two proofs of your principal address. Our examiners may question any documents and request additional information for verification of identity.
Moped Operators — You must be in possession of a valid operator's license.
Identification Card — To obtain an Identification Card, you must provide a certified birth certificate. There is no age requirement.
Any driver license or non-driver identification card issued to any individual under 21 years of age with 5 years or less remaining until applicant’s 21st birthday will expire 30 days after individual's 21st birthday.
NOTE: Every licensee shall have his Operator's License in his immediate possession at all times when operating a motor vehicle and shall display the same upon demand of a judge or a court of record, a magistrate, a peace officer, or a field deputy, or inspector of the Department of Public Safety.
Tip #1: Make It Old, Solid, and Bold
Some parents may want to buy a brand new car for their teen's first vehicle, however, it may not be the best vehicle to learn in. If you must buy your teen a car, here are some tips...
- OLD, LARGE, and SOLID
- Think classic station wagon or full-size sedan with a small engine
- Check the vehicle's history to assure that it's a safe and reliable
Parent's Tip: "Old, large, and solid" may not be the words your teenager wants to hear, but they'll like them better than "take the bus."
Tip #2: Be a Winning Coach. Motivate Your Young Driver
To be a successful teacher, you need to understand a few things about motivating a student during driving sessions...
- Check frequently to ensure that your teen understands
- Keep things moving by giving your instructions in real time
- Point things out as they happen
- Act more as the co-pilot than taskmaster
- Keep an eye on the road ahead of you at all times
Source: Safe Young Drivers, Phil Berardelli
Parent's Tip: Practice these tips in every driving session. And leave the whistle at home, coach!
Tip #3: Less is More - The Potential Catastrophe of Passengers
Other teens in the car is one of the greatest risks...
- Friends lead to excitement, distractions and peer pressure
- Fatal crashes with teen drivers are more likely to involve passengers
- Teens are less likely to wear seat belts when driving with other teens
Parent's Tip: Teens plus teens in a car equals disaster. Just say "no" to passengers for the first year.
Tip #4: Keep Your Hands on the Wheel to Avoid Distractions
Most teens grew up riding in car seats, but today they aren't buckling up. So what gets young drivers and passengers to buckle up?
- Linking belt use to driving privileges
- Making your teen pay any fines that they incur
- Teaching by example - always wear your seatbelt
- Exercising your parental authority
Parent's Tip: Tell your kids to buckle up or walk. No negotiation. When they have kids, they'll understand!
Tip #5: Defensive Driving for Teens
The first year of driving is a high-risk period especially for beginners starting at age 16. Inexperience, nervousness and lack of practical skills can lead to bad decisions behind the wheel. Create a home graduated licensing program with your licensed teen:
- Continue to ride along and coach your teen even after they obtain a license.
- Set a driving curfew (morning and night) to limit 'after dark' driving.
- Monitor and limit your teens driving during inclement weather.
- Restrict the number of passengers when your teen is driving.
- Talk to your teen - find out what situations or techniques he/she has trouble with, then take them to a low-traffic location and have them practice with you in the car.
Parent's Tip: Teach your teen to drive defensively -- anticipating conditions and situations that increase risk. Watch for poor driving habits like not signaling, sloppy turns, speeding, lack of alertness or overcorrecting.
Tip #6: Boys vs. Girls
More and more female drivers are taking to the roads as aggressively as males and paying a price for their risky behavior. Parents must teach both sons and daughters...
- This is not a competition either of them wants to win
Source: Safe Young Drivers, Phil Berardelli
Parent's Tip: "Anything you can do I can do better" is a phrase kids hear a lot growing up. Perhaps a better way to word that phrase should be "Anything you can do I can do safer."
Tip #7: Learner's Permit Required?
In South Dakota the minimum age to obtain a license is 14, however, the process is not easy. S.D. requires that a new driver must work through a graduated licensing system before obtaining an Operator's License. Even with this system, you should:
- Set your own waiting period for your teen
- Pursue a driving instruction program outside the school
- Log plenty of practice time with your teen before letting him or her take the driver's exam
Click Here for more info regarding S.D. Graduated License System
Parent's Tip: State laws and instruction are great ways to get your teen started on the road to safe driving, but what you do with and for your teen makes the most difference.
Tip #8: We all need our space -- the 3 second rule
Allowing enough space between you and other cars on the road allows for time to react in case of an emergency.
- As the car in front of you passes a fixed point like a sign, tree or building, count "one thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three". If you reach the designated point before three, slow down.
- Increase your distance by one for each bad driving condition. For rain and fog you would add two seconds.
- Make sure you drive in the middle of the lane to allow space on the side of the car.
- If the driver behind you is too close, change lanes and let them pass.
Source: Car Tips and More
Parent's Tip: Let your teen know that adding additional space between cars will not slow down their travel time any more than a few minutes. Better to arrive a few minutes late than not at all!
Tip #9: Making Time - Make it Count
Driving requires commitment and discipline - from both the student and the coach. The best way to demonstrate these traits is to establish a practice schedule and stick to it.
- Commit to the 100 hours of supervised instruction (100 hours is only 2 hours/week for a year, or 4 hours/week for 6 months)
- Make it routine--set aside a specific day and time for driving practice (Put it in your day-planner if you have to; this is an appointment for safety)
- Go with the flow--when the lessons require driving at night or in bad weather, make adjustments * Don't cancel, reschedule--when you have to work late or something else unexpected comes up, don't cancel your driving date, reschedule it.
Source: Safe Young Drivers, Phil Berardelli
Parent's Tip: Demonstrate to your child that you are making this a firm commitment to their safety.
Tip #10: Tapping the Wall
Want to instill some respect in a young driver for the forces that can be unleashed in a crash? Here's a harmless way to do it - just be careful...
- Make sure your vehicle doesn't have a fragile plastic license plate frame positioned in front of the bumper (If you have any doubts about the idea, or are worried about damage, don't try it. Or, you drive.)
- You or your teen pull into a parking space that abuts a solid concrete wall
- Stop, and then move forward slowly until the vehicle's front bumper contacts with the wall. Even at one mile an hour, the sensation will send a shiver through both of you
Source: Safe Young Drivers, Phil Berardelli
Parent's Tip: Let them feel the shock of even the slightest bump; it will leave an imprint on your teen that will make them a safer driver.
Tip #11: Mirror, Mirror on the Car
Tunnel vision and blind spots can be a hazard to any driver but are particularly difficult for a new driver. Teach your teen how to minimize both...
For the driver side mirror:
- Have your teen roll up the window
- Press his or her head against the glass
- Then adjust the mirror so that they can just see the edge of the car
For the passenger side mirror:
- Have your teen place their head in the center of the car (directly behind the inside mirror mount)
- Adjust the outside mirror so that they can just see the edge of the car.
- This is necessary even with convex (curved) mirrors where the image is distorted a little
Source: National Motorists Association
Parent's Tip: Repeat that routine every time you and your teen begin a lesson to make blind spots virtually disappear.
Tip #12: Driving Practice -- The Ultimate Video Game
If your teen can spend 10 hours getting hand-cramps from the latest video game, he or she can spend ten sessions meandering through your local countryside or back roads, to develop driving hand-eye coordination. Anytime visibility decreases, have your teen:
- Slow down
- Access the situation
- If visibility is only 100 feet ahead, you should be doing no more than 35 MPH. If it's at 50 feet, it's 25 MPH, and so on.
Source: Safe Young Drivers, Phil Berardelli
Parent's Tip: Build up to an hour or more per session. It will help your teen's mind and body become more accustomed to driving and build more confidence.
The first years of driving is a high-risk period for the beginner. Inexperience, combined with lack of skill, means that one in five males and one in ten females will be involved in an accident during their first years of driving. Safe driving is very much a matter of seeing what needs to be seen and making good decisions, but this is not simple to achieve. The eyes do not tell people what to see; people tell the eyes what to look for. In other words, experience and training play a major role in ensuring that the eyes will look in the right places at the right time. Early success in learning driving basics creates complacency among new drivers; the parents' role is to help their teen to overcome the complacency and continue to build driving skills after licensing.
After Licensing Suggestions:
Schedule "Driving Check-ups" - Once a week, let your teen drive you to the grocery store, post office, or on any errand. This will allow you to see how they are driving, and you have time to correct any bad driving habits while they are still gaining the experience they need.
Limit Passengers - Teens + Teenage Passengers = Disaster. Teens in the car is one of the greatest risks. Friends lead to excitement, distractions, and peer pressure. Fatal crashes with teen drivers are more likely to involve passengers, and teens are less likely to wear their seatbelts with other teens. Limit who and how many passengers may be in the car when your young driver is behind the wheel.
Hold them accountable for their actions - Hopefully your teen will obey all traffic laws, but if they should commit a traffic infraction, hold them responsible. There are several measures the Driver Licensing Program takes to reprimand teens who hold either a Instruction Permit or a Restricted Minor's Permit; however, if your teen holds an Operator License or does not feel the complete impact at home, they are not going to learn. Take measures, such as making your teen pay the fine and the fee to reinstate the license or restrict driving for a period of time. This will teach them if they break the law, there are consequences...not only with the law, but also with you as the parent or guardian.
Show them the big picture of owning a car - Teach them about insurance companies, registration, licensing, and maintaining the vehicle. Learning about this now will lessen the shock when they must maintain their own car and it will also create a sense of responsibility for the car they are driving.