Is parental permission enough for a license during a pandemic?
Gov. Sununu has loosened some of New Hampshire’s requirements for driver education during the coronavirus pandemic, but for now student drivers can’t get a license. Georgia, on the other hand, is letting parents decide on licenses.
Driver’s ed in NH during coronavirus
A March 27 executive order allows the classroom portion of driver education in New Hampshire to take place completely online.
Students may also complete the mandatory six hours of observation with a parent driving, rather than with an instructor.
Gov. Sununu has not changed the required ten hours of student driving time with an instructor.
Student drivers also cannot take a road test at the Division of Motor Vehicles until the governor lifts the stay-at-home order. This is largely because employees and test-takers cannot socially distance in a vehicle.
A different approach in Georgia
New Hampshire’s approach is very different than Georgia’s. Gov. Brian Kemp issued an executive order that essentially allows parents to grant driver’s licenses to their children.
If a driver under age eighteen has held a learner’s permit for at least one year without a violation, the driver can get a full license without taking a road test. Parents must sign off that a student driver has completed 40 hours of driving time.
Should NH consider licensing without a road test?
Supporters of Georgia’s approach argue that parents are suitable judges of their children’s driving abilities. With no definite end to the stay-at-home order, families planning for a teen’s license shouldn’t have to wait for the state of emergency to end.
Opponents point out that accidents, including car collisions, are the leading cause of death for teenagers in the United States. Given these high stakes, trained professionals need to evaluate teen drivers. Teenage drivers also shouldn’t have pressing needs to drive anywhere during the stay-at-home order.
In 2019 Rep. Timothy Lang sponsored a New Hampshire bill to allow parents to homeschool students for driver’s education. The House killed that bill.
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