Alaska Graduated License
Teen drivers have the highest crash rates among drivers of all age groups and that is why most states have some form of a graduated license system that targets young drivers and discourages them from engaging in risk taking behavior. Although the Alaska graduated license system is a little outdated and may use as review, it still has the same key stages as graduate license programs of other states. The Alaska graduated drivers license system applies to everyone who chooses to obtain a drivers license before the age of 18 years and enforces a number of additional restrictions onto teenage permit and license holders. The rules of the graduated license program must be followed at all times, failure to do so will result in the driving privilege being suspended or canceled.
Since the graduated license program applies only to those who apply for an Alaska drivers license before the age of 18 years, most of the teenagers consider it to be unfair. It certainly looks so from teenager's perspective as they see it as a limitation of their ability to drive. However, let's take a look at why the Alaska graduated drivers license program was developed in the first place.
For every driver, there are two phases when he/she is more likely to be involved in a traffic accident. The first phase starts when the driver is issued with a drivers license and starts driving alone. At this phase, the driver has virtually no driving experience and is unable to predict or deal with any situation that can lead to a disaster. The second phase comes later, at the point when a driver gains some experience and becomes overconfident. An overconfident driver usually pays less attention to the road and may take unnecessary risks, which is just as dangerous as operating a vehicle while having very limited driving skills.
While there is not much we can do about drivers who entered the second phase, there is plenty we could do for those who just started driving. Multiple studies on the subject were conducted nationwide, so most of the causes of traffic accidents were identified. In the end, development of the Alaska graduated license program was about putting together a set of rules that would prevent drivers from making the mistakes that lead to those traffic accidents.
Graduated License Stages
One of the best approaches to resolving the issue of teen mortality due to traffic accidents was breaking the licensing procedure into a number of separate steps, as opposed to granting teenagers with full driving privileges as soon as they are able to pass the required tests. Each stage teaches an applicant a certain set of skills and graduation to the next level is not possible until the requirements of the previous stage were met. At the moment, the Alaska graduated driver's license program has the following key stages:
- Learners permit
- Provisional drivers license
- Unrestricted drivers license
Keep in mind that the graduated license program applies only to teenagers under 18 years of age. However, adults still have to go through the same testing procedures and have to take both an Alaska permit test and a drivers test before being issued with a permit or a license. You may try yourself with a free Alaska permit practice test to see if you are ready for the real thing.
The minimum age for applying for an Alaska learners permit is 14 years. At this age, you may visit your local DMV office, take a permit test and receive a permit. Once you have a permit, you can start practicing driving. However, due to its nature, your permit has certain limitations and you must observe the following Alaska permit restrictions at all times:
- Supervised driving only. You cannot drive alone at any time and must have a licensed driver 21 years of age with at least one year of driving experience seated in the front seat next to you.
- Seat belts. Everyone in the vehicle must wear seat belts.
- No cell phone. You cannot use a cell phone or any other communication device while driving.
Your permit is valid for 2 years and you must keep it for at least six months prior to applying for a provisional drivers license. During this period, you must also complete at least 40 hours of supervised driving with your parent, with at least 10 of these hours done at night. If you are convicted of a moving violation during the permit holding period, the waiting period is restarted and you have to wait another six months before you can take an Alaska drivers test.
Although the state does not make completion of an Alaska drivers education class mandatory, it may still be a good idea to participate in the class at this stage. Drivers ed classes contain a lot of information on defensive driving practices and are especially useful for those who operate a vehicle in the challenging weather conditions.
Provisional Drivers License
Applying for a provisional drivers license is the second step of the Alaska graduated driver's license system. The minimum age for receiving a provisional license is 16 years, which creates some confusion for those who got a learners permit at the age of 14 years. Although you can receive a permit at the age of 14 years and the minimum permit holding period is six months, you cannot apply for a provisional drivers license until you are at least 16 years of age, so your permit holding period works out to be two years instead of six months.
A provisional drivers license allows you to drive without a supervising driver in the vehicle under certain conditions. Here is a short list of these provisional license restrictions (you may find a full list in the official Alaska driver's manual):
- Curfew. No driving alone between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. If you need to travel during these hours, you must have a supervising driver accompany you. Exceptions can be made if you are traveling between home and work/school.
- No passengers. You cannot carry any passengers unless there is a supervising adult at least 21 years of age present in the vehicle. This rule does not apply to your siblings.
- Seat belts. Safety belts must be worn by everyone in the vehicle.
You have to hold a provisional license for at least six months or until you turn 18, whatever comes first. Just like with the learners permit, conviction of a moving violation extends the provisional license holding period by another six months.
Once you fulfill all requirements of the graduated drivers license program, you can be issued with an Alaska drivers license. This license does not hold any restrictions and allows you to operate a vehicle under any conditions, provided you observe the state driving rules.