Here's the deal. I will soon be one of the parents with white knuckles, pleading for safety, and shrieking at every wrong turn in just a few short months, as my teenage daughter begins to drive. Apparently in Wisconsin, parents have been taking the brunt of this abuse as a waiver program initiated in March of 2020 and has officially expired as of December 31st, 2023.

Son with father testing new bought car, dad teaching teen boy to drive auto
Credit: Motortion
In all honesty, my parents never looked this happy when I was first driving their vehicle. Now, it's my turn...

That's right Wisconsin kiddos (& parents), you've got to start taking those road tests again. In fact, according to the Wisconsin DMV, 171,194 waivers were granted during the pilot program, and 85% of teenagers that received their probationary license had used the waiver to obtain it.

Credit: Monkey Business Images
Credit: Monkey Business Images

So what's the big deal, well according to the CDC, about 2,800 teens in the United States ages 13 to19 were killed and about 227,000 were injured in motor vehicle crashes in just 2020. That means that every day, about eight teens died due to motor vehicle crashes, and hundreds more were injured. Motor vehicle crash deaths among teens 13 to19 years of age resulted in about $40.7 billion in medical costs and cost estimates for lives lost in 2020. For Wisconsin in 2022, one teen driver was injured or killed every 3.7 hours. From more details on Wisconsin teen drivers, check out this fact sheet.

On the Car Crash Traffic Accident Scene: Rescue Team of Firefighters Pull Female Victim out of Rollover Vehicle, They Use Stretchers Carefully, Hand Her Over to Paramedics who Perform First Aid
Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

According to the Wisconsin DOT the road test waiver program allowed drivers ages 16 and 17 who had met all requirements move directly to a probationary graduated driver license without taking the road test. Those requirements included holding their learner’s permit for at least six months, completing 30 hours of classroom instruction and additional hours of behind the wheel training with a driving instructor and logging an additional 50 hours of driving with a parent or guardian.

Credit: Lisa F. Young
Distracted driving in both teens and adults is still a major issue. And with the flood of new technologies more and more distractions become prevalent.

The expiration of the waiver has sparked discussions about the value of earning a license through the road test, with some believing that the accomplishment holds more merit than simply being granted a license through a waiver. Driving educators are ready to guide young drivers through the traditional testing process, emphasizing the importance of the experience. You can schedule, reschedule, cancel or verify a road test appointment through the Wisconsin DOT online system.

Credit: Wisconsin DOT
Credit: Wisconsin DOT

When you schedule an appointment through the online system, you will be prompted to enter the following items:

  • Your driver license or ID card number or social security number
  • Your date of birth
  • Your zip code
  • To receive a confirmation and reminder of your appointment, an e-mail address or cell phone number with texting is required
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While the Wisconsin DMV and the State Legislature found no negative safety implications during the pilot program, the lack of legislative action to make the program permanent led to its automatic conclusion on January 1st of this year. Many parents have continued to express the sentiment that taking the road test is a valuable rite of passage for teens and should not be waived.

Female Driver Making Phone Call After Traffic Accident, looking at the accident
Credit: monkeybusinessimages

Wisconsin parents are encouraged to check out the interactive Driver License Guide. The guide will provide you with a checklist of requirements and allow you to pre-fill any necessary applications. Depending on eligibility, you may also be able to use the guide to electronically submit your application and schedule an appointment with the DMV for expedited service.

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