Teens: How to Get a Texas Driver’s License

Everything you need to know about getting your Texas license

It’s almost time to stop asking Mom for a ride. Almost.

Getting a driver’s license is an exciting time. And just one step of becoming an adult. Parents, when kids are ready to drive make sure they have the best driving instruction along with the safest vehicle recommended for teens.

Most people jump through the hoops of getting their first license one-by-one. We’ll walk step-by-step through the process of how to get a Texas driver’s license.

Your driver’s ed class might be online, in a classroom, or found in a book. Whatever method you and your parent decide, this list of steps will help you feel prepared when you hop in the queue at the DMV.

School Zone Safety Week 2019

Before kids ever get behind the wheel, they often travel to school by bus. This week is 2019 National School Bus Safety Week – a time to recognize the need for increased caution where kids travel frequently. Over one million young Texans ride buses to school. Watch out for the over 9,000 school buses across Texas that get our kids to class on time! Fines for failure to stop for a school bus start at a whopping $1,250. But if the chance for a fine wasn’t enough to deter all drivers from a dangerous driving practice – remember these facts.

  • Children aged 5-10 are most commonly killed in school-transportation-related crashes.
  • Most school-age-fatalities occur between 3:00-3:59 p.m.

This week, and every week watch out for children heading home from class. Read ahead for a refresher course on driving laws around school buses. (Don’t make us remind you that 6 months is the amount of time your license could be suspended for a second school bus driving offense!)


Register for your drivers ed course

The first step to getting a license is enrolling in a driver’s ed classroom course. This will allow you to begin studying for the written exam.

Note: some students opt to do the classroom portion and behind the wheel instruction in the same time period.

What you should note about your 32 classroom hours: You can’t complete more than two hours of classroom work per day! Be sure to choose a verified course. Remember that it’s OK to choose to take the course at school, after school, or at home.

You might choose a driving education course that’s outside of school. If you do, we’ll go into the details in the next section of this post. There’s also an option to choose a Parent Taught Driver Education course. You can find instructions here. For parents with the time and will to teach, this method only costs $20. There’s no need to purchase an additional online course unless you feel it’ll help you better understand the material.


Practice with a learner’s permit for the practical driving exam

cake, learners permit, wheel, drivers ed Texas

Now that you’ve studied and completed the classroom portion of your class, it’s time to take the written exam! While the test won’t be fun (snooze) it’ll put you one step closer to getting behind the wheel with a learner’s permit.

Complete this step, and you can start the fun (and important!) part of learning to drive in the car.

When you go to the DPS you must provide the original form to verify that the required classroom hours have been completed. If you are doing a parent taught course, you will find the forms in the Parent Taught Driver Ed packet. Your parent will be required to complete those forms for you. Make sure they know to sign them in front of a DPS officer!

Requirements:

  • Must be 15 years of age.
  • Must have completed the required 32 classroom hours.
  • Provide proof of school attendance with a Verification of Enrollment form. (Must be signed by a school admin like your counselor or vice principal.)
  • Pay a $16 learner’s permit fee.
  • Complete the application form.
  • Must have a parent or legal guardian present to take the test.

What you need to know about the VOE form: It may depend upon your school, but your parent may have to request the VOE form for you. Depending upon your high school, they may have to call the main office or your counseling office. Possibly the most important part of VOE? It expires 30 days after it is issued! It will verify that your attendance meets the state’s required number of hours. If you’ve been playing hookie it could stand in the way of your ability to get out on the road. In this case, too cool for school is also “too cool” to drive.


Take a practical exam for a driver’s license!

cake, key, teen driver provisional license graphic

Requirements:

  • Must be at least 16 years old
  • Held a valid learner license (or hardship license) for a minimum of 6 months
  • Completed the classroom and behind-the-wheel portions of driver education
  • Completed a Impact Texas teen Drivers (ITTD) course
  • Taken (and passed!) the practical driving course.

Again you will need to bring your parent with you, an updated VOE, driving education documents (from your in-car lessons), and an Impact Texas Drivers (ITD) certificate of completion.

What is the Impact Texas Teen Drivers Course? It’s a free, 2 hour video class that shows how dangerous distracted driving is. It’s made specifically for new drivers between the ages of 15-17 years. You have to complete the course whether you opted for a course or the parent-taught method.


Choosing Your Teen Driver Course

With so many websites advertising drivers ed online, it can be hard to know whom to trust. Here we’ve done the research and narrowed down to some of the best options for teen driving education.

Deciding whether to do driving school or parent taught, or a mix of both is a big decision. You want your kid to get the best info on being safe out on the road, but need it to be affordable too. Here we’ve ranked just some of the options available to Austin drivers preparing to get out on the road with their teens for the first time.

Your Guide to Types of Driver’s Ed in Texas

Texas Parent Taught Drivers Ed

A teen driver’s ed course can be taken:

  1. In a course offered at your public school
  2. At home through the parent-taught driver education
  3. Through a course offered by a licensed training school. (May be online or in person.)

For parents who have the time, doing parental instruction behind the wheel can be a great way to know first-hand your teen’s knowledge behind the wheel. Keep in mind that insuring a teen with a learner’s permit is not the same as insuring a fully licensed teen.
The learner’s permit is a driving permit the teen gets before they become fully licensed. In the most basic sense, teens with a learner’s permit don’t need to have their own car insurance.Your insurance company will typically extend the policy to cover a teen with a learner’s permit.  Don’t assume that your teen is automatically added – you should contact your car insurance agency to notify them of the change.

If your teen has the keys to the family vehicle and have started taking trips on their own to school or practice, you’ll want to make sure they’re taking every safety precaution.

General Driving Tips for Texas Teens

Where there’s a high school, there’s inexperienced drivers. Not only that, but there’s more need for caution and different set of rules to remember when driving in and around school zones. Resources from the annual School Bus Safety Week can help teens understand the safety requirements when traveling where other young, impulsive students walk and ride to school

  • When school buses are stopped with flashing lights, always make a complete stop. This applies no matter which side of the road you’re on. When the lights are flashing on a school bus, students are entering or exiting the bus and may be crossing the street.
  • Avoid the high school parking lot rush hour. Getting in and out of the parking lot while everyone else is trying to back up may result in a fender bender. Better to arrive early and stay a little late to avoid the rush.
  • Don’t leave valuable items visible in the parking lot. Laptops, wallets, backpacks, jackets and sports equipment could be temptations to break in.
  • Never park in fire lanes around the school. You will get a ticket and possibly keep firefighters from parking the fire truck there.

These should seem like obvious tips. Start with setting reasonable, easy to understand, expectations with your teen before moving on. Your teen’s driver course will mention each of these safety tips, but it will be more meaningful and impactful when it is coming from you.

  1. Follow the speed limits. Going too fast gives you less time to react or stop. One of the main reasons teens crash is because they were going too fast.
  2. Always wear your seat belt. Make sure everyone else in the car is buckled up, too. Don’t ever try to fit more people in the car than you have room for!
  3. Keeping your windshield clean means you have an unobstructed view.
  4. Eliminate distractions. That means cell phones, food, rowdy friends, and loud music.

Teens: How to respect other drivers

We love this advice from teendriving.com: “Don’t drive like you own the road, drive like you own the car.” Driving on Texas roadways means taking responsibility for your own safety and others’.

  • You can’t predict what other drivers are going to do. Even if they have a turn signal on to turn, don’t pull out into the roadway until they have started making the turn.
  • Steer clear of aggressive drivers.
  • Don’t engage in aggressive driving. It might just seem like a way to blow off steam, but aggressive driving can escalate quickly. An Austin woman died earlier this year when aggressive driving turned into a confrontation. She was run over by a man’s vehicle multiple times in a McDonald’s parking lot.
  • Never pull out in front of someone or swerve into their lane.

Passing, Turning and Merging

Having a competency in merging, turning and passing is required of all those that take a driving test. Unsafe lane changes or illegal passing are some of the most common reasons that people call us at McMinn.

There are a few times that you should never pass.

  • If you aren’t sure if there’s enough space or time to pull onto the roadway.
  • Over a solid yellow line on your side (you should pass over dotted white lines.)
  • If the car you’re trying to pass is already going the max speed.
  • If there is construction on the roadway.
  • Through tunnels, on narrow roads, or on bridges.

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