The Difference Between Teen And Adult Driver’s Education in Colorado

There are distinct behavior and psychological differences that influence how teens and adults learn. That’s one reason why driver’s education classes for adults and teen driver’s education courses are a little different. But there are other reasons too. Here’s a look at some of the differences between teen and adult driver education in Colorado.

Teen Driver Education

Automobile crashes are a leading cause of death among teens in Colorado and around the country. That’s why classes for teens focus on crash avoidance and how to prevent and handle dangerous situations on the road. Online courses offer engaging videos, 3D animations, and case studies to help teens learn crash avoidance and good decision-making.

In Colorado, these courses require 30 hours to complete. After you pass the course, you receive an affidavit of completion, and depending on the situation, you could be eligible for a 10% discount on auto insurance.

Who Takes the 30-Hour Course?

For those wanting a license between 15 and 15½ years of age, the state requires the 30-hour teen driver education course. After that, you can apply for a permit. Once you have your permit, you must log 50 hours of driving experience with a licensed driver over the age of 18. In addition, Colorado requires teens to have a permit for one year and get six hours of mandatory behind-the-wheel training before they can apply for a full license at 16.

If you start the process between the ages of 15½ and 16, you can choose to take the 30-hour class or a shorter four-hour driver awareness class before you can apply for a permit. For this age group, six hours of behind-the-wheel training is optional if you are 16½ or older at the time of applying for a license.

If you start the process at age 16 or 17, the 30-hour course and behind-the-wheel training are not required, though they're both strongly recommended by the DMV. You can apply for a permit right away, but you still need to log 50 hours of supervised driving before you can apply for your license.

Adult Driver’s Education

If you’re over the age of 16 and have held a driver’s license in another state, Colorado driver’s education is not required. However, there are adult driver improvement courses you can take to refresh your skills at any time. Courses like these offer the latest information on safe driving and defensive driving so you can protect yourself on the roads.

You also won't need to take a written or road test as long as your license hasn't been expired for more than a year. However, if you do not pass the vision or hearing test, the DMV has the right to request a road test. This could be motivation enough for some to take an adult driver education course.

If you are over 18 years old and are getting your first driver’s license, you may opt for adult education even though it’s not required. Often, the motivation for adult drivers to further their education is to either improve driving skills or to receive an insurance discount, in some cases up to 20%.

Teen and Adult Learning Styles

Even though they often cover similar information about safe and defensive driving, driver’s education courses usually have different ways of delivering the message to teens versus adults. When adults learn, they draw from experience; teens don’t have that experience yet, explained Ryan Pietzsch, a driver safety education expert with the National Safety Council.

That’s why parents and educators must find ways to make the education relevant and find an emotional connection to the content for teens. For example, if a student-athlete realizes that a bad decision behind the wheel can jeopardize involvement in a sport, this can motivate the student to pay attention when taking a course. Some teen driver education courses will emphasize points like these in their narratives so they connect with teen audiences.

“There’s real science behind all this,” Pietzsch said. “Brain development continues to age 25. A teenager’s brain is still building those neuro-pathways between the emotional (amygdala) and the rational (prefrontal cortex) sides of the brain. As adults, we draw on experiences, and we have established more neuro-pathways allowing us to rationalize our behavior. For example, teens can experience overwhelming emotional input yet can’t explain later what they were thinking. This is an example of emotional thinking or really just feeling more than actual cognitive thought.”

Luckily, courses from take into account these differences, so whether you're an adult or a teen seeking driving education in Colorado, we can help.