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Auto accidents are among the biggest dangers for teens who reach driving age. According to a 2018 article in the Bellingham Herald, teens make up fewer than 15% of drivers in Washington but represent 29% of auto accident fatalities in the state.

If your teen will soon turn 15, familiarize yourself with the state restrictions designed to keep young drivers safe.

Instruction permit

Also called a learner’s permit, this is the first step to becoming a full-fledged driver. Your teen must be at least 15 years old and complete a driver’s education course. If your teen has not enrolled in driver’s ed, he or she can get a permit at age 15 1/2 after passing written knowledge and vision exams. Permit applicants who are younger than 18 must also have written parent permission.

Teens who have an instruction permit may drive only when supervised by an adult who has been driving for at least five years. To move on to the next licensing phase, your child must practice for at least 40 hours during the day and at least 10 hours at night.

Intermediate license

Teens in Washington can get an intermediate license after:

  • Having a permit for at least four months
  • Passing a traffic safety education course
  • Passing a driving test

The intermediate license allows your child to drive independently with certain restrictions. For the first year after getting a license, your teen must stay off the road between 1 a.m. and 5 pm. unless accompanied by a licensed driver who is at least 25. He or she may not have nonfamily passengers who are younger than 20 for the first six months. For the second six months, state law prohibits teens from having more than three passengers younger than 20 unless they are immediate family members. Washington also prevents teens from using hands-free wireless devices while driving.

Your teen will automatically receive a full license after turning 18. He or she must be also free of traffic violations with the intermediate license for a full year. Encourage your child to follow these laws can help prevent serious auto accident injury.