If you're turning 16 or have a child who is, it's almost time to start driving. There are more steps to getting a junior operator's license in Massachusetts than you might think. For families who have their first child coming of the driving age or who need a refresher on what it takes to get that license, look no further.
1. First, the teen must attend a driver's education course. These can be completed any time of the year. During the summer and school vacations (Winter, February, and April breaks), driving schools offer the whole course in a week; the student attends three classes (6 hours) a day for five days, like a school week. Throughout the entire year, classes are offered on Saturdays. There are 15 numbered different classes the student must attend, and you can call the driving school to see which ones are scheduled for which Saturdays. If possible, I definitely recommend completing the course in a week.
Even if you're under the age of 18 and technically don't need to complete driver's ed to be eligible for your license, taking the course could lower your auto insurance rates.
2. A parent has to attend a driver's ed course too! At least one parent/guardian must take a two hour class before the teen(s) can start driving hours. A parent class is good for 5 years in Massachusetts; for example, my parent attended a driving class for my sister getting her license 3 years ago. Since my parent had taken a class within the past 5 years, my mother didn't have to attend another one for me.
3. Get your permit! You're eligible to get your permit the day you turn 16. I recommend getting it as soon as possible, because you must have had your permit for at least 6 months before you can take a road test. You must pass a permit test at the RMV, which contains material from the Massachusetts driver's manual. Come back next week for a blog about getting your permit.
4. Driving hours! A student must spend 12 hours driving with an instructor from a driving school and 6 hours observing other student drivers. Every driving school schedules these differently, but for example, I had to schedule 12 sessions. I spent an hour driving every session and half an hour observing. It is easy to schedule these sessions online, or you can with a phone call.
5. This and step four go together; you must spend at least 40 hours driving with parent supervision and instruction. You should drive with your parent before your driving hours, so that driving school instructors can spend your sessions teaching you how to drive on the road instead of things like how to start your car.
6. Schedule your road test once you've completed the steps above and feel ready! You can do this online or by phone. Practice in the days leading up to your road test, especially on things you have trouble with. Come back soon for a blog about passing your road test.
Once you've completed these steps, congratulations! You can be a junior operator! Keep in mind, since you have to have had your permit for 6 months to get your license, you really must be 16 and 1/2 in Massachusetts. Additionally, a student driver cannot operate a vehicle without an adult in the car. Once a junior operator does have his/her license, he can't drive any friends under age 18 until he's been licensed for 6 months (this excludes family members).