What You Need to Know About Getting a Driver’s License in the COVID-19 Era

The 2020 Outbreak of the Coronavirus has touched every aspect of our lives, and getting a driver’s license is no exception.

With many in-person driver’s ed classes canceled, COVID-19 has altered the process of getting a driver’s license. And teen’s motivations for getting a driver’s license have been impacted by the pandemic as well.

Here’s what you need to know about getting a driver’s license in the COVID-19 era. 71% of teens delayed taking drivers ed due to covid-19

COVID-19 Has Caused Delays in Completing Driver’s Education

In a recent survey of nearly 700 parents with teens at home, 71% of parents report that their teen’s driver’s education was delayed due to COVID-19. And, as of December 1, 2020, 43% of teens aged 15-16 still needed to complete their driver’s education.

The delays are a result of:

  • In-person driver’s ed courses being canceled as part of stay-at-home orders in an effort to slow the spread of the virus, 

  • In-person driver’s ed courses being canceled as individual instructors fall ill or choose not to risk holding classes despite legally being able to do so, and

  • Lower motivation to pursue a driver’s license when socializing is heavily discouraged and/or outright banned. 

One solution to these delays is online driver’s ed. Students can now complete the classroom portion of their driver’s ed classes entirely online in many states. Several states allowed for online driver’s ed even before the pandemic, and, since the outbreak, additional states have enacted orders to either temporarily or permanently accept online driver’s ed courses as well. 

COVID-19 Appears to Have Dampened the Motivation to Pursue a Driver’s License

Seventy-six percent of parents surveyed believe their teens were less excited about pursuing a driver’s license during the pandemic than they would have been without the pandemic.

And this is understandable when a big incentive to get a real estate license (hanging out with your friends) has effectively been eliminated in the COVID era. 

Of the teens who have not yet completed their driver’s education:

  • 30% of parents say that neither they, nor their teens, are pushing toward driver’s ed.

  • Another 30% of parents say that they and their teens are both pushing equally hard toward driver’s ed.

  • Only 29% say their teen is pushing for driver’s ed.

  • And 12% say they are having to push their teens.

The teens who have completed their driver’s ed training appear to be more motivated (we’ll look at those motivations shortly). 

Of the teens who have completed their driver’s education:

  • A substantial 66% of parents say their teens were the driving force behind completing their driver’s education.

  • 17% of parents say they had to push their teen.

  • And another 17% of parents reported that they and their teens equally wanted the teens to pursue driver’s ed.

So why are teens motivated to get their driver’s licenses in a year in which social contact is severely discouraged?

Why Do Today’s Teens Want Their Driver’s Licenses?

Many of the reasons today’s teens want their driver’s licenses are the same reasons their parents wanted their driver’s licenses: Freedom, driving as a right of passage, and getting to and from school and work. motivations for teens getting their license in 2020

When parents of teens who have completed driver’s ed were asked to select all motivating factors for their teens to get their licenses, the parents responded as follows:

  • To have more freedom: 55% (even with COVID-19, teens want to come and go as they please, even if that just means going for a drive) 

  • Achieve this milestone: 49% (with so many proms, graduations, and athletic/academic competitions being canceled due to COVID-19, many teens are disappointed with the milestones they’ve missed during the COVID-19 era, and want to keep this right of passage)

  • To get a job/drive themselves to a job: 49%

  • Drive themselves to school: 41%

  • Drive themselves to activities: 30%

  • To help out with family needs/chores: 14%

  • Get a car: 38%

When parents of teens who have not yet completed driver’s ed were asked to select all motivating factors for their teens to get their licenses, the parents responded as follows:

  • To have more freedom: 61%

  • Achieve this milestone: 51%

  • To get a job/drive themselves to a job: 48%

  • Drive themselves to school: 46%

  • Drive themselves to activities: 48%

  • To help out with family needs/chores: 22%

  • Get a car: 44%

The percentages are close in each category for the groups who did and did not complete driver’s ed, with the outlier being “drive themselves to activities.” There is an 18 percentage point difference in this category, and interestingly, the group that has not yet completed driver’s ed placed a higher importance on this category. This may be because all teens dream of getting a license to drive themselves to activities like sporting events, movies, and dates, but once a teen in 2020 actually gets their license, they realize that’s just not possible this year, and they forget it was ever a motivating factor. For the group still working on their driver’s ed training, there may be hope that the new COVID-19 vaccines will allow activities to resume.  

Completing Driver’s Ed Makes a Big Difference in Employment

The COVID-19 pandemic launched a global recession in 2020, resulting in historic unemployment. But many teens still want to work. And many teens still need to work because they need the income. Completing driver’s ed is closely linked to having a job in 2020.teens who completed drivers ed in 2020 to get a job

Consider the fact that 71% of the teens who completed driver’s ed have a job (according to our survey), while only 19% of those who have not completed driver’s ed have jobs.

And it’s not that teens without a license don’t want to get a job. According to the survey, 58% of teens who haven’t completed driver’s ed would like to get a job. And, on the other hand, only 21% of those who completed driver’s ed would like to get a job. The number of students who complete driver’s ed and would like to get a job is low because most of the teens who completed driver’s ed already have jobs. 

Completing driver’s ed and getting a driver’s license makes you more likely to get a job. Consider these COVID-friendly job opportunities:

  • Meal delivery services

  • Parcel delivery

  • Grocery delivery

  • Trucking to keep the supply chains running smoothly

With a driver’s license, you become eligible for these transportation-based jobs that are in-demand in the COVID-19 era. And you don’t need to worry about these job opportunities disappearing when the pandemic is over. We’ve all gotten used to having everything delivered to our doors, and many of us will likely continue relying on delivery services in the post-pandemic world.

How to Get a Driver’s License During the Pandemic

The process of getting your driver’s license varies state-to-state. And each state has its own rules for issuing a driver’s license during a pandemic. But in most cases, the following steps are required:

  1. Complete a driver’s ed course.

  2. Pass a written test at the DMV to get your learner’s permit (this may be possible online or an appointment may be required; very few DMV locations are accepting walk-ins during the pandemic).

  3. Get in your state-required supervised driving practice.

  4. Complete the required paperwork and submit the required documents to your DMV

  5. Pass a behind-the-wheel driving test with a DMV employee or approved third-party testing service (some states, like Georgia, temporarily waived road test requirements during the pandemic).

2020 was a year like no other, but getting a driver’s license is still an important part of American life, even in a pandemic. Don’t let COVID-19 keep you from completing your driver’s ed courses and earning your driver’s license. 

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