Driving Schools for Teens
Choosing a Driving School
It is a Saturday afternoon, a perfect afternoon to run your errands and do all that time-consuming shopping you have been putting off for the past week. You need 1) to buy groceries, 2) get an outfit for cousin Bettys wedding next week, 3) to help high school grad-to-be Johnny select a college, and 4) sign up 15 year old Tina for drivers education. It sure is going to be a busy Saturday, better get to work!
So, after sitting down for 15 minutes and making a grocery list, you head to the local market and spend another hour and a half picking out the perfect cantaloupe, sirloin, and finding the best deal on bread. Now its off to the mall where you are determined to find that perfect ensemble of clothing to wear to the big wedding. Two hours and four department stores later, its in the bag and youre finally on your way. You get home and look at your to-do list: find college for Johnny. “Well,” you think to yourself, “thatll take a few days to figure out, Ill just tackle that when I have a few days off from work.” Finally, you come to the end of your checklist and let out a sigh of relief, all you have to do is sign up little Tina for driving school. You open up the yellow pages, dial seven digits, and five minutes later Tinas enrolled at Uncle Bills Driving School and youre half way to your bed for a nap.
So lets recap, shall we? You spent an hour and a half buying food for the next week, 2 hours purchasing clothes youll wear for a day, youll need several days to select that college Johnny will attend for four years, and it took you five minutes to select your daughters driver training that she will not only use for the rest of her life, but that will hopefully save her from one of lifes most lethal tasks: driving.
Did you know that the number one cause of death for teens ages 15-19, according to the National Center of Health Statistics, is automobile accidents (they account for nearly 40% of all teen deaths)? Its no secret that teen drivers have a higher rate of serious and deadly accidents than other drivers. Many of these accidents are caused by common mistakes, or an incomplete knowledge of traffic laws. With these poignant statistics, its a wonder parents dont take choosing a driving school more seriously. The knowledge gained from a good, qualified driving school decreases the chances of being involved in a costly, injurious or possibly deadly collision. When choosing the right driving school for you or your loved ones, there are some obvious and not-so-obvious points to consider.
1) Price should not be a factor. Driver training is one of the most important investments youll ever make for your teen. When looking for a driving school, there is usually an inverse relationship between price and quality. Though the most expensive school isnt automatically the best, there is a reason why certain schools charge less than others. Some driving schools cut corners by investing in cheaper, less safe vehicles. Others hire unqualified instructors that they find on the street and can pay minimal wages. Not to mention, most inexpensive schools teach “off the top of their head,” and have not taken the time or money required preparing a structured, comprehensive curriculum. If you find a school you like, but the price is a little steeper than you expected, find out if they have a payment plan. Many customer friendly driving schools not only help you by breaking up costs into affordable payments, they also offer promotional discounts to help lower the price.
2) Verify the driving school is licensed in your state. If your child needed surgery, you surely wouldnt take them to an unlicensed surgeon. Dont make the same mistake when choosing a driving school. Licensed schools truly have to earn their credentials by complying with a number of state laws and regulations. You can check on the status of any licensed driving school and verify what type of courses they are approved for. For example, in California, the DMV provides a free driving school look-up service located at https://eg.dmv.ca.gov/olinq/Welcome.jsp. If a school is not on their list, keep looking!
3) Review the driving schools website. You may not always be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can get a pretty good idea of whats inside. The same is true of driving schools and their websites, and you should take the time to see what their site has to offer. Is the site professional? Is it easy to use? How about the content – is it pertinent, helpful, and organized well? Does the site have just minimal information, or does it go above and beyond what youd expect? Is contact information clearly stated and easy to find? If you answer no to any of these questions, you might want to say no to that driving school.
4) Customer service should be a priority. A good test for any service-based company is to see how helpful and professional their customer service is. After all, if they have poor customer service before you are their customer, who knows how they will treat you once theyve already got your money. Put a list of questions together and give the driving school a call. Most reputable companies will have well trained phone staff that should be able to answer any question you have regarding getting your permit or license. And they should answer those questions with a positive attitude. If a school representative answers the call on a cell phone, they probably dont have an office or they are in the middle of a driving lesson. This should raise a red flag and you should run, not walk, in the other direction.
5) What does the driving school offer in the way of training vehicles? One of the most overlooked aspects of driver training is the vehicle used to train your teen. Shouldnt the primary tool used to train be of primary concern? Many of the best schools train in up-to-date vehicles equipped with extra safety equipment such as side & head curtain airbags and vehicle stability control systems. Another item to consider is the type of vehicle you will train in. If your teen will be driving an SUV as their primary vehicle, it makes sense to have them trained in an SUV. There are schools out there that offer lessons in both SUVs and compact cars, you just have to look around.
6) Make sure the driving schools instructors are capable. A restaurants only as good as their chefs and a driving school is only as good as their instructors. A legitimate driving school hires professional, highly trained instructors to teach their students. Some of the leading-edge schools even hire instructors who have strong backgrounds working with teens. Studies show that teens learn more effectively when they are mentored, not dictated to. Furthermore, the best driving schools will thoroughly screen their instructors with background and drug tests. After all, you should be able to trust leaving your child with an instructor without having any reservations. Finally, top driving schools also have a mix of both male and female instructors, allowing you to choose the best fit for you.
7) Choose a driving school with nothing to hide. Your first instinct about the quality of a driving school is probably your best. A good driving school usually will give you a good feeling from the start. If you ask specific questions, you get specific, no nonsense answers. In addition, a respectable driving school will keep you in tune with whats going on with your child. Some advanced schools in California actually provide written feedback after each lesson regarding the childs progress. One good test of a driving schools reliability is requesting to accompany your child on his or her fist lesson. An upright driving school will accommodate this request.
Verify basic driving school services are intact. Unfortunately, many driving schools are just trying to make a quick buck and dont provide some of the basic services a customer would come to expect. For example, make sure your child is the only student in the car during their lesson, not splitting their time with multiple teen drivers. Also, will the driving school pick you up at your front door? From school? From work? Or do you have to drop your child off for their lesson. Does the driving school have cell phones in their cars in case of emergencies? Do they have a GPS tracking system in their training vehicles in case you need to track down your child? And a good driving school will keep an open line of communication with you between lessons – are you getting feedback from them after each lesson?
9) Find a driving school with several products to offer. A successful driving school usually offers more than just the basic or minimum driving packages. If theyre experienced, they know that not all students learn at the same level and may need different amounts and types of training. Some good questions to ask a prospective driving school might be, “Do you offer special freeway training?” or “Do you have special courses that help prepare for the DMV drive test?” Also, find out if they have various hourly packages; most respectable schools offer 6, 10, 20, and 30 hour drive packages. Again, inquire about their vehicle line, do they just have cars available for training, or can you train in an SUV if desired?
10) Make sure you they can accommodate your schedule. If you decide to go with a “mom and pops” driving school, plan on scheduling your lessons around their calendar. If they only have one or two cars, chances are youll have to go when they are ready to take you. A well-rounded driving school should have a fleet of vehicles (and instructors) so that you can schedule lessons around your life. Furthermore, they should cater to the time of day you would like to schedule your teen. Do they have early morning lessons? How about evening lessons for practicing during the nighttime.
11) Driving schools should be able to help get your permit. Its very common for driving schools that teach behind the wheel training to also offer some sort of driver education to help get your permit. If the driving school doesnt offer the education you need to get your permit, they should at least be able to refer you to someone who does. Of the driving schools that do offer driver education, many only offer it in a classroom setting. The more credible schools are heeding the results of a CA DMV study conducted in 2003. The study showed that students who received their education online or via a computer based program outperformed and tested higher than students who sat through the traditional classroom training. As a result, progressive driving schools have made the investment and now offer their education via the Internet. When choosing an online course for your child, double check that the online course has been DMV approved and is not some unsanctioned course created just to take your money.
As you can see, choosing a suitable driving school requires a little more forethought than opening up the yellow pages and randomly dialing a phone number. While many teens may opt to take the quickest and easiest route they can find, a prudent parent knows that this is not a decision that should be rushed. After all, your 15-year-old “baby” is about to get behind a 3,000-pound machine, a machine that many Department of Motor Vehicles consider a deadly weapon. So before you “load that gun”, make sure you do your part by “putting the safety on”, that is, get them the best driver training possible.
About the author :
Chris Kramer is a content writer for both http://www.TrafficSchool.com and http://www.DriversEdDirect.com .
Check out our websites for more information about online traffic school or drivers education for teens.