For the majority of teens, getting a driver’s license is an exciting rite of passage that means freedom, autonomy, and a big step toward adulthood. For parents, it can also be exciting on some levels (not having to drive them to those early morning soccer practices!) but also nerve-wracking, stressful and scary. We’re supposed to put our babies behind the wheel of a two-ton machine that can reach speeds close to 100 miles per hour, but it feels like they just learned to ride a bike yesterday.

In my state, and I suspect some others, we’re also supposed to teach them to drive!

When it came time for me to teach my own kids to drive, I quickly realized that it might be beneficial to get some outside help. Things were okay when they first got their learner’s permits, but as they got more hours of practice under their belts, and subsequently more comfortable with driving, they were less inclined to listen to my instructions and my husband and I were both less and less patient. After my daughter ended up in tears of frustration more than once after driving sessions with myself or her dad, I decided it might be worth the cost to send her to driving school.

Worth the Money

Driving school, or Driver’s ed as it’s sometimes called, can be expensive, with class packages costing anywhere from $200 – $800. It can also, however, be worth the cost. Not to be confused with online courses that are required by some states before a teen or new driver can get their permit, these classes not only have classroom learning, but also hours of real-time driving with a trained instructor.

Aside from getting lessons from someone who is specifically qualified to teach people to drive, there are plenty of other benefits to enrolling your teen in driving classes:

You’ll Save on Insurance

If you haven’t had to add a teen to your auto insurance yet, you’re in for a rude awakening. Insurance costs for teens can be prohibitive, even when they are only listed as an additional or occasional driver on your car. You can help mitigate that cost with driving school, as many insurance companies offer substantial discounts for teens who have received training via driver’s ed. Discounts on rates do vary, so you’ll want to check with your own insurance agent to see what they offer, but the savings often far exceed the cost of driving school.

Your Teen Will Feel More Confident

Education and information help us in all walks of life, and learning to drive is no different. Driving schools go beyond just teaching kids the mechanics of operating a vehicle and the rules of the road, but also specifics on what they need to know for their driving test, defensive driving skills, and all those little details about driving that are second-nature to us, but important for teens to know and understand. Teens are also likely to get more driving time than they might with mom or dad, all while under the supervision of a qualified and trained professional.

You Won’t Pass on Your Bad Habits

Whether it’s the occasional slow roll at a stop sign or not always using your turn signal when you should, we all have some less than stellar driving habits. 

Because we have years of driving experience to fall back on, those little habits might not be that big of a deal for us, but they also aren’t things we want to be passing onto our kids when they are learning to drive. Having a trained instructor means your teens will be learning to drive in a setting where your small bad habits don’t become theirs as well.

Some Schools Actually Administer the Driving Test

Taking your driving test at the DMV can be a very intimidating experience. A DMV employee, whom you’ve never met, sits next to you with a clipboard, giving you the side-eye as they monitor your every move, and of course, your every mistake. 

When I signed my kids up for driver’s ed, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the school was authorized through our state’s DMV to administer the driving test at the end of the course. Not only would they be able to skip having to stand in one of those endless lines at the DMV, they’d be taking their test with someone they’d already been working with, making them feel more comfortable with the process.

You’ll Also Feel More Confident

It took me a long time to be comfortable with my kids taking off in the car for the day, and even now that they’re adults, I worry when they go on road trips or have to drive where I know there is a lot of traffic. I don’t know if that worry will ever go away completely, but I am confident that driving school gave them the tools they need to be safe drivers.

Knowing that my skills as a parent didn’t extend to teaching my teens to drive and letting someone else “take the wheel” so to say, was by no means a parenting fail. If anything, it ended up being one of my better decisions. Sometimes, the best thing we can do as parents is to understand our own limitations and let an expert step in, especially when it comes to making sure our kids have been fully trained before they get that license to drive.

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About Jody Ellis

Jody Ellis is a freelance writer who specializes in beauty, health, travel, fashion and social justice. She is currently part of a fellowship with Community Change, a non-profit focused on writing about social policies that impact low-income families. Her work has appeared in publications such as LennyLetter, Huffington Post, BBC Future Planet, Civil Eats and Eater.

View all posts by Jody Ellis

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