Choose A Driving School
Drivers under age 18 must complete specific Driver Education Training courses before they can get a Junior or Probationary Driver’s License. To understand your state’s requirements, visit your state Department of Transportation website. In Texas, for example, teens must have completed 32 hours of classroom instruction, seven hours of behind-the-wheel training from a professional driving instructor, and seven hours of in-car practice with an instructor before earning a Junior or Probationary license.
Making sure your new driver is more than ready for the road involves exploring different driving school options. Here are some tips that will help you find the program that’s right for you and your teen:
- Visit a facility in which you’re interested. Before choosing a specific facility, ask questions about what the program entails, details regarding on-road practice and conditions, the instructor’s credentials, the programs accreditation status, how much liability the school carries, and the amount of parent involvement.
- Seek advice from other parents and teens. Ask other parents and teens who have recently participated in a program about their experience and any recommendations.
- Look for a school that doesn’t rush the learning process. Although the classroom portion of the program is important, behind-the-wheel training is critical. Not all drivers are the same, and some will need practice in certain areas. Make sure the school will teach at your teen’s particular pace.
- Choose a school with a curriculum that covers all aspects of driving. Check to see what will be covered for the 30-hour classroom requirement. Make sure your teen is learning everything, including the basics, car mechanics, what to do in emergencies, insurance issues, driving under the influence, how to read road maps, accidents, national statistics, and more.
- Make sure the behind-the-wheel training is thorough. If a driving lesson is under 1 hour, it’s not enough. Lessons should be planned out ahead of time based on the teen driver’s experience to date. The instructor should choose routes that are appropriate for each teen, and also provide challenges in new driving environments.
- Be sure the school stresses face-to-face interaction between the driving instructor and parent. Research shows this partnership makes safer drivers. Lack of communication can lead to parents not reinforcing the lessons taught.
- Look for programs that maximize on-road driving lessons. Choose a program that offers your teen maximized on-road driving lessons, as well as tips for you to continue supervised parental practice and involvement.
- See what kind of advanced training options are available. The use of advanced technology such as simulators, fatal vision goggles, break reaction software, and night sight meters can all play an important role in the training process.
- Steer clear of programs with emergency driving maneuvers training. Make sure you are careful when reviewing programs that include training in skid control or other emergency driving maneuvers. These programs have been found to increase crashes.
- Compare school and state curriculums. Be sure to check and compare your driving school curriculum with state curriculum requirements.
- Check to see if your school is in good standing. Before choosing a school, make sure it has not received any disciplinary actions for violating licensing laws or rules.
- Make sure your driving course meets insurance company requirements. If the driving class is being taken to receive a discount on insurance, be sure to check directly with your provider, rather than take the school’s word for it.
- Don’t let choosing a driving education program be the last step. Once your teen has completed the class, the bulk of his or her practice and instruction should be directly supervised by you.
Also be sure to ask the following questions about its driving program:
- Does it stress both safety and building basic steps?
- Does it teach new learners how to handle the vehicle, manage speed and recognize hazards?
- Does it devote at least six hours of on-the-road training, spread out over several days?
- Does it have a written curriculum that the instructor can share with you?
- Does it offer training with up-to-date equipment?
- Does it require its driving instructors to attend specific classes, clinics, or programs?
- Does it help your teen develop lifelong habits and skills?