Whether you’re choosing a driving school because your teen’s school doesn’t offer driver’s education, or you’re choosing one to get an additional discount on car insurance, the decision is not one that should be taken lightly.
While proximity, convenience, and price shouldn’t be overlooked, they shouldn’t be the sole decision-making criteria.
Above all, you want to make sure that a prospective driving school is accredited. Depending on your purposes, you’ll want to make sure that it meets either your state’s requirements or your insurance company’s requirements. If the purpose of taking the class is to get a discount on insurance, be sure to check directly with your provider, rather than taking the school’s word for it.
You’ll also want to take a look at the school itself. Make sure that the school you choose is clean and well-maintained. You should see signs that the school is adequately funded and able to provide a high-quality, modern driver’s education.
Ask the school if they have driving simulators, and inquire about the course materials that they use. Even though driver’s education doesn’t change as rapidly as, say, a computers curriculum, it’s important to know that your teen won’t be learning from 1960s course materials. Make sure that modern issues like road rage, cell phones, and text messaging will be discussed.
Similarly, you’ll also want to make sure that the driving school’s curriculum is well-rounded, personal, and thorough. There are a variety of questions you can ask to help you figure that out: How many hours of instruction are included in the course? 4 day classes will not provide the instruction your student needs. Do you plan on making up the difference?
What’s the average student-to-teacher ratio? The lower it is, the better.
What percentage of the time is spent on real driving, classroom learning, and driving simulations? Make sure that driving time is at least equal to the time spent on other aspects of the curriculum.
Does the course aim to make sure students pass the DMV tests, or is the focus more on becoming a well-rounded driver? Who does it serve to have a teen that can pass a test but isn’t prepared to deal with a variety of driving situations?
You may also find that friends and family can offer helpful recommendations and warnings about different driving schools in your area. If that’s not an option, try searching online or asking acquaintances to get a feel for a school’s local reputation.
Finally, you’ll want to make sure that your student is comfortable with the driving school and its instructors. A good driving school will involve a lot of time alone or in small groups with the instructors and it’s hard to learn if that relationship is strained.
Although it can be time-consuming to seek out the perfect match, it’s definitely worth the effort if you have a choice. A solid education can be one of the best ways to ensure that your teen stays safe and healthy as he or she takes to the roads.