More practice now required for Minnesota's teen drivers

New laws taking effect Jan. 1 will require young drivers to spend more time on the road before they are issued a license.

Young drivers will now need to spend at least 50 hours driving with parents and other adults — at least 15 hours of which must be at night.

"They're also required to log those supervised practice hours, and they'll have to submit the driving log when they go to take their provisional driver's license test," Department of Public Safety's traffic safety coordinator Gordy Pehrson said. "The minimum hours of 50 and 15 are just that. They're minimum requirements."

The state will also offer a new voluntary 90-minute class for teens and their parents. It's designed to educate families about the risks that young drivers face and will offer ways to reduce those risks. The class will also cover the rules in the state's graduated license law.

"I would suggest that they contact their local driver education provider, wherever their teen is going to be taking their classroom and, eventually, behind-the-wheel training," Pehrson said. "Ask them about it. It's typically through community education, commercial driving schools or public schools."

State officials hope parents will see the class as an opportunity to help keep their new drivers safe, rather than an obligation.

"As long as teens continue to be over-represented in traffic crashes, we have a call to do something about it," said Pehrson. "And involving, engaging and empowering parents to do something is what its all about."

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