There are several different ways of approaching the question of when to allow people to begin driving. In the states which are either optimistic or face significant hardships, the view tends to be that children should be allowed to begin driving earlier. In more pessimistic states which given weight to the statistics showing teen drivers nine times more likely to be involved in a traffic accident than older drivers, the trend is to force teens to wait until they can legally get behind the wheel. Then comes the view on graduated drivers licensing. In some states, there are few limits on the young driver’s freedom to use a car. In others, there are quite strict limits depending on the age of the driver. In part because of the number of rural communities, Arkansas allows youngsters to apply for a Learner’s License at the age of fourteen. This can be boosted to an Intermediate Driver’s License at sixteen. An individual becomes an adult at eighteen and is entitled to obtain a full, i.e. unrestricted, driver’s license.
The young adult must be at least fourteen. To get the permit, the application must be submitted to the local revenue office and:
• a parent or legal guardian must sign the form accepting legal and financial responsibility for the young driver;
• the applicant must produce a copy of his or her birth certificate or other proof of identity, age and the fact of residency in Arkansas; and
• the applicant must show proof of school enrollment or graduation with a minimum GPA of 2.0 — a formal confirmation must be supplied by the school.
A written test is then given based on the Arkansas Driver’s Manual. Proving adequate eyesight and a minimum practical ability, the applicant gets the permit which is limited to six months. This can be renewed every six months so long as there have been no tickets, accidents or convictions.
This is available to drivers between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. It limits the driver’s freedom to operate a vehicle:
• with more than one teen passenger who is not a family member unless there is a supervisor sitting in the front seat who is at least twenty-one; or
• between the hours of 11 pm and 4 am unless driving to and from school, a religious activity or work and accompanied by an adult aged at least twenty-one.
Once the applicant has celebrated his or her eighteenth birthday, the regular driver’s license for non-commercial vehicles can be issued so long as:
• an intermediate license has been held for at least one year;
• there have been no accidents; and
• the applicant has passed an approved driver training course.