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Kids behind the wheel (they’re still kids)

    Mom teaching teenage daughter how to drive

    My dad taught me to drive in a cemetery.

    Why? Because there’s no traffic. It’s impossible to get lost. “And you can’t hurt anyone because there aren’t any living people in a cemetery.” Even still, we were very respectful.

    Life was simple back in 1997. (I’m 38 now, I’ll save you the math.) You could get your restricted license at 15 years old after a Driver’s Ed class and a written test. You received your “real” driver’s license once you turned 16. And after that, you were free to run around town in your hand-me-down car.

    The only way to become a good driver is experience. And at 38, I’m beyond experienced.

    Of course, I gave my parents a few headaches as a teenager. I failed the written driver’s test four times before my driving instructor waved me off in a “whatever” wave. I’m pretty sure that means I never passed the written test. I got caught for having a friend ride in the car with me with a restricted license. My dad was right - I never injured anyone and that’s all that really matters.

    I’m pretty sure my 13-year-old will be sending me straight to the cemetery in one way or another.

    One - how did my baby girl go from 6 pounds in a rear-facing car seat to sitting behind the wheel? I know how it happened, but it just went so fast. Both versions of her make me break out in a nervous sweat.

    And two - much to the disbelief of new parents, you don’t receive a manual with the baby you bring home from the hospital. Do you know what else you also don’t get? Clear instructions at the DMV on the rules of getting a new driver’s license.

    The days of 15-year-old restricted license to 16-year-old driver’s license are gone. Here’s what happened as the rest of us grew up to be responsible drivers: our babies are learning how to drive at 13 now. THIRTEEN. I swear.

    A guide to driver’s licenses

    I’m here for you. This is your Kansas and Missouri driver’s license requirements for teenage drivers. A guide to putting car keys in your child’s hands, save us all.

    Kansas

    • Age 14: Your teen will need proof of identity, pass the vision test, pass the written test (or a certificate of completion from driver’s education) and a parent present. Once your teen has cleared these requirements, the instruction permit will allow your teen to drive with a licensed adult, age 21 or older, in the front seat at all times. No use of wireless communication devices, CELL PHONES, except to report illegal activity or emergency help. Your teen must keep their instruction permit for one year before they can advance to a restricted driver’s license.
    • Age 15: Your teen will need proof of identity, pass the vision test, pass the written test, pass a driving test or certificate of completion of Driver’s Ed, proof of an instruction permit for at least one year, 25 hours of driving time affidavit and a parent present. Once your teen has cleared these requirements, the restricted license will allow your teen to drive alone to/from work and to/from school when school is in session. They may drive anytime and anywhere with a licensed adult, age 21 or over. They may not transport any non-sibling minor passengers. No use of wireless communication devices, CELL PHONES, except to report illegal activity or emergency help. Your teen must keep their restricted license for one year before they can advance to a less restricted license.
    • Age 16: Your teen will need proof of identity, pass the vision test, pass the written test, (or completion of Driver’s Ed), proof of an instruction permit for at least one year and 50 hours of driving time affidavit. Once your teen has cleared these requirements, the less restricted license will allow your child to drive anywhere from 5 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oh yes, there’s a curfew. There is no curfew if your teen is driving going to/from school activities, to/from religious worship services or if they are with a licensed adult, age 21 or over. No use of wireless communication devices, CELL PHONES, except to report illegal activity or emergency help. They may not transport more than one non-sibling minor passenger. Your teen must keep their less restricted license for six months or until age 17, whichever occurs first before they can advance to a non-restricted license.
    • Age 17: Your teen will need proof of identity, pass the vision test, pass the written test (or completion of Driver’s Ed) and 50 hours of driving time affidavit. Once your teen has completed these, they may receive a non-restricted license.
    • Age 18: Hand your car keys over. They can make an ice cream run for you.

    Missouri

    • Age 15: Your teen will need proof of identity, pass the vision test, pass the road recognition test and written test at a Missouri State Highway Patrol driver examination station and a parent present. Once your teen has cleared these requirements, the instruction permit will allow your teen to drive with a licensed adult, age 25 or older, in the front seat at all times.
    • Age 16 - 17: Your teen will need proof of identity, pass the vision test, pass the road recognition test and written test at a Missouri State Highway Patrol driver examination station, possess an instruction permit for at least 182 days, proof of 40 hours of Driver’s Ed, including a minimum of 10 hours of nighttime driving between sunset and sunrise with a licensed adult, pass the driving test at a Missouri State Highway Patrol driver examination station and a parent present. Once your teen has cleared these requirements, an intermediate license will allow your teen in the first six months to drive with one non-family member passenger under 19 years old. After six months, your teen may drive with three non-family passengers under 19 years old. Your teen may not drive alone from 1 to 5 a.m.
    • Age 18: Your teen will need proof of identity, pass the vision test and must satisfy the intermediate license requirements in order to obtain an under 21 full driver’s license and hand your car keys over.

    Driving apps for parents and teens:

    While it may seem like they know what they’re doing, kids are still kids – especially behind a wheel. My teen appears calm and collected, but I’m always going to watch out for her. Here are some apps I’ve found helpful as we’ve gone on our own driving journeys.

    Driver’s Education apps: DriversEd and Aceable.

    Teen tracking apps: Life 360, Safe Drive, Safe 2 Save, On My Way: Drive Safe Get Paid

    Sources: Kansas Department of Revenue Division of Vehicles, Missouri Department of Revenue Driver Licensing


    Guest Writer