Parents who can afford it may elect to enroll their child in a driver’s education program. These courses can provide additional experience to teen drivers, and can take some of the pressure off parents. Around 56% of teens participate in a formal driver’s education course, according to recent research by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and State Farm. At around the time your child turns 14, you should start looking into the various driver’s education programs in your area. Some may have waiting lists, so it pays to inquire in advance.
How much do driver’s education courses cost?
Courses typically run anywhere from $300 to $500, and generally include several weeks of classroom work followed by supervised driving lessons.
How To Choose A Driver’s Education Program:
- Find out if your child’s high school offers a driving class and how much it costs. It might be cheaper than a private school.
- Some driving schools may offer online courses as a substitute for classroom work, which can make them cheaper.
- Ask your insurance company about whether they offer driver’s-ed discounts. It might help you recoup some or all of the costs.
What is covered in a driver’s ed course?
Most driver’s ed courses include both a classroom portion and a supervised driving skills portion. During their drive time, students typically get practice in advanced driving skills such as parallel parking, controlling skids, driving on slippery surfaces, braking quickly, ignoring distractions or avoiding road hazards.
The Pro’s and Cons of driver education programs
The benefits of driver education programs
Studies on the effectiveness of driver education programs are mixed, and in general, do not show any substantial safety difference on a teen’s driving. Yet this does not necessarily mean they are useless.
The benefits of driver education programs are that they offer further driving experience, allowing kids to do things they don’t normally get to do on the highway. Ted Woerner, a co-founder of driving program Miles Ahead, says that “It’s far more prudent…to have your child experience a skid for the first time in a completely safe environment with a professional instructor calmly teaching them how to control it instead of in heavy, oncoming traffic with potentially tragic consequences for making a mistake.” (Copeland, 3-15-2012) They are also another opportunity to practice, and every bit of practice teens get is a plus. Parents who have difficulties teaching their teen may even find it less nerve-wracking to hire out a driving instructor to help them through the permit phase.
The downside of driver education courses
As stated earlier, there’s no solid evidence showing that driver education courses have an effect on teen crash rates. This doesn’t mean they have no effect, just that it’s not substantial enough to show up in large sets of data (or that the benefits are watered down by other factors). So parents who can’t afford it shouldn’t feel guilty about not sending their child to a driving school. You can achieve just as much by spending extra driving time with your teen, and we offer free printable educational driving materials that can substitute for some of the coursework they might receive.
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