Way back when I got my license (Logan, Utah, circa 1986), as long as you had taken driver's ed and driven for a few hours (5?) with the instructor, you could show up on your 16th birthday, take the test, and drive away fully licensed. Wooo-hoooo!
My best friend Debbie took me to a drive-thru right after she got her license. We jerkily pulled up fully perpendicular to the ordering menu at McDonald's and yelled our orders, followed by a jumpy 235-point turn to get oriented the right direction, giggling all the way. Yeah. Maybe we weren't completely ready to be on the roads solo. It was more of an on-the-road-experience proposition.
Flash forward a couple of decades and across the country. The earliest you can get your license here is at 16 1/2, after six months of supervised driving with a permit, 18 hours of instructor hours (12 driving, 6 observing), 40 hours of parent supervised driving. On busy, intense Massachusetts roads with impatient, hair-trigger-horn-honking fellow drivers. And navigating crazy free-for-alls round-a-bouts to boot!
She's ready, skilled, licensed, and legal.* Let freedom ring!
Next challenge: learn to drive on the OTHER side of the road in Australia. Wheeee!
. . .
*Even now that she's licensed, she can't drive non-family members under 18 without someone over 21 in the car, too, for six more months. It definitely puts a damper on dating around here but Massachusetts is serious about new driver safety, y'all. So she STILL can't pick up her best friend and go to McDonald's drive-thru for another 6 months...