Finally getting behind the wheel – a moment many teens dream about until they get that first chance when they start drivers education. But for those who are learning to drive NOW, they’re going to have to deal with a few changes. Starting with where they’ll get their learners permits. As of last Wednesday, driving schools in Maine could no longer issue permits – now all students have to get their permits through the Secretary of State.
“After the student has completed the driver’s education course and has taken the final exam, the student will be issued a course completion certificate,” says Vince Baldwin, drivers education instructor at Presque Isle High School. “Then the student will need to go into any local BMV office, and have their original birth certificate, their course completion certificate, and their proof of residency, and then they can be issued a permit.”
And the changes don’t stop there – students are now required to log at least 70 hours of driving time -10 of those hours being at night..before sending in to get their license. That’s DOUBLE the time it was in the past.
Baldwin says, “gives them more time to get real experiences on the road, more time to increase the abilities that they have, and more time to become better drivers as a whole.”
Linda Mazerolle, driving instructor at Mazzie’s Driving School says, “They’re going to find out what it’s like driving in snowstorms, whiteouts, they’re going to know what its like driving in torrential downpours..sunny..bright sun..so they need to have all the experience that they can possibly get.”
Though instructors say the more experience the better, new students at Mazzie’s Driving School in Caribou tell me they aren’t psyched about the increased time.
Spencer St. Peter says, “70 hours is a lot but we’ll still get it done.”
Megan Ouellette says, “It just seems really high and it doesn’t seem fair because the other people that already got their permits only had to drive like 35 hours.”
Baldwin says as a drivers ed instructor his number one goal is to teach students how to handle a car safely in all aspects of driving. Mazerolle says she focuses on teaching students the proper eye movements and to drive without being distracted.
LIST OF NEW LAWS: http://www.maine.gov/sos/news/2013/newbmvlaws.html