When it’s time for your teen to learn how to drive, you can either have them participate in driver’s ed at school, or you can hire a private instructor. Because of how important it is to educate your teen about safe driving, it’s a big decision.
If you’re considering a private driving instructor or just aren’t sure what approach you’re going to take yet, the following are things to know.
Before getting too far into the debate, while we traditionally think of driver’s ed as being classroom-based or private, there is another option, which is sometimes called parent-taught driver’s ed. With this option, your child would do the classroom part of their driver’s ed training online. This might actually be a good idea for driver’s ed students because it’s convenient, and they can access the courses and information anytime they want or need it.
With this type of driver’s ed, your child will get behind the wheel with you, a grandparent, or a guardian instead of an instructor. Some states that have this include Texas, and it does allow your child to get their learner’s permit faster.
These types of licensing programs aren’t available to everyone, however. In Texas, just as an example, there are disqualifiers for parents. For example, you can’t be a parent instructor if you don’t currently have a driver’s license, you have a DWI, or you have more than six points on your driving record.
If your state doesn’t offer parent-based driver’s ed, then another option is for your child to take it through their high school. Usually, in these cases, your child will share their driving time with the instructor with up to three other students. That means students usually only drive for 15 minutes per session. It can be tough for a driving instructor to customize the learning experience to the student’s individual needs because they have so many students.
A third option, depending on the state where you live, is a private driving instructor. A private instructor delivers one-to-one driving lessons. Your child will get the full time of each lesson to learn how to drive.
Many driving schools will offer additional services as well, like bringing students to their road test or arranging for the student to use the driving school car for their road test so they’re comfortable behind the wheel. A private driving instructor will pick your child up from home, and each lesson is based on the student's needs.
A private driving school instructor doesn’t follow a pre-determined syllabus. They will instead focus on the student’s areas of weakness. While in the short-term, a private instructor can seem more expensive, in reality, it can be cheaper because your child will learn what they need to know initially rather than go back and do things again.
If you do choose a private instructor, consider the following in doing so:
The qualifications of your instructor are the most important thing to keep in mind. You might be able to find a list of local private driving instructors through your local government’s main website. Look for instructors that adhere to voluntary Continuing Professional Development and ones that follow ADI, which is an Approved Driving Instructor code of practice.
Ask for references from friends and family if possible.
Try to choose an instructor that has a similar vehicle to what your child will drive after they pass their test. This will help them get a feel for what it will be like to have it on the roadway.
Budget is something you’ll have to think about too. While going with the cheapest instructor may be appealing; it’s not necessarily going to get your child the best experience.
Choose an instructor that your child gets along with and feels comfortable with. They’re going to be spending time learning something very important with them. Your child needs to feel like they’re offering constructive criticism and like they can ask questions when necessary.
Driving is one of the most important milestones of a person’s life, and you want your teen to be safe and capable. That’s why it’s important to start thinking about how they’ll learn to drive. Teens are high-risk drivers because of inexperience and distracted driving, but the more you can prepare your child to take on the responsibility of being behind the wheel, the better off they’ll be.