One of the most exciting times in the life of a teen also happens to be one of the most terrifying for parents. For most teens, driving a car is freedom unlike anything they’ve seen before. But before teens can hop behind the wheel, they’ve got to first get a hold of their driver’s license. For most drivers getting started, that means driver’s education classes.
First things first: Getting that driver’s permit
Once you’ve taken a few practice tests (there are tons available online), it’s time to take the test for your driver’s permit. Students are required to provide proper documentation, which may vary from state to state. Among the types of documentation that are typically accepted, a few common ones are are:
- Proof of identity
- Lawful status documentation
- Social Security Card
- Proof of residency (you might need two pieces of documentation to prove this)
Then you must take (and pass) the written portion of the driving test for your state. Typically, you must take your test at the DMV (Department of Motor Vehicles). Fortunately, most states have a variety of practice tests available online you can take before sitting for the real deal.
What kind of options are available for driver’s ed?
You passed your permit test, yay! Now it’s time to hit road for some practice (and the classroom for some studying). Today, there are tons of different options available to you. A lot of schools offer credit for driver’s education classes for high school students. Sometimes there are costs involved in taking this class, but it costs less than private driving lessons through a private company. The great thing about most school classes is that they combine actual driving lessons with the educational material required in a classroom, so you get the best of both worlds.
There are other options like online courses, which are all conducted virtually but offer no actual driving experience like in-person driver’s ed classes do. Depending on how you want to practice on the road (with an instructor or with a parent), online classes might be more convenient or less convenient for you.
Choosing which type of driver’s ed class you want to take will depend a lot on what your schedule is, and how much you’re willing to spend. The cheaper choice is generally the online driver’s education option. However, since there is no actual driving instruction or time spent behind the wheel, the responsibility for teaching the student to drive falls on the parents with this option. Ideally, the best education involves a combination of professional driving instruction and practice with parents in your free time.
Learning to drive
While most students sign up for some sort of driver’s education training that involves time behind the wheel, almost every state requires a minimum number of supervised driving hours during the permit period. This is to give students opportunities to drive under close supervision and with a responsible adult in the vehicle with them.
The goal is for students to have guidance from the adult driver that will help them avoid accidents, resist the temptation to overcorrect, and help them remain calm when unexpected things happen while driving, such as mechanical issues, other drivers on the road, and bad weather.
One of the most important things parents can do is set good examples by not texting and driving or doing other bad habits behind the wheel.
Additionally, you might want to consider installing safety features on your vehicles (like a backup camera), or purchasing vehicles that have them already, to help with road safety. One great example is Ford’s MyKey, featuring a special key for drivers that does the following:
- Caps a car’s speed limit at 80 miles per hour, with the option to set alert chimes for 45, 55, and 65 miles per hour.
- Encourages seatbelt use with chimes that sound until the driver and passenger wear their seatbelts and prevents the stereo from turning on until the front two passengers buckle up.
- Limits audio volume to half volume to help decrease distraction
- Keeps track of mileage and providers earlier than average low fuel warnings.
While not all cars offer safety features like these, there are other safety features you can use that don’t require installation in your car, like turning off texting on your phone so you won’t be as distracted when behind the wheel. If you’re looking for a new car, Ford and Honda both offer plenty of options teen drivers.
Taking the driving test
The big day is here, the one you (or your teen) has been preparing for over the past 9 months! When the day of the test arrives, make sure you go over all the key components of the test (written portion and the ‘on the road’ portion). Like any other test, it’s important to have a good night sleep the night before and healthy breakfast the morning of the driving test.
Hooray, you passed! Now that there’s a new driver in the family, it’s important to take look at car insurance needs. Elephant offers a list of discounts to help families save on insurance when there’s a teen driver. Good Student discount, Multi-Car, and an online discount are all built with the idea that families with teen drivers shouldn’t be overcharged on their car insurance.