How to Choose the Best Driving School for Your Teen
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)? It's 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, it's a wonder parents don't 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:
Look Over the Driving School's Website.
You may not always be able to judge a book by its cover, but you can get a pretty good idea of what's 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? Does the site have just minimal information, or does it go above and beyond what you'd expect? If you answer no to any of these questions, you might want to say no to that driving school.
Verify You're Dealing with a DMV Licensed Driving School.
If your child needed surgery, you surely wouldn't take them to an unlicensed surgeon. Don't 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. If a driving school is not on the DMV's licensed list, keep looking!
How will the Customer Service Be?
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 they've already got your money. If a school representative answers the call on a cell phone, they probably don't 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.
Are the Driving School's Instructors Qualified?
A restaurant's 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. The best driving schools will thoroughly screen their instructors with background and drug tests. Finally, top driving schools also have a mix of both male and female instructors.
What Kind of Training Vehicles Do They Instruct In?
One of the most overlooked aspects of driver training is the vehicle used to train your teen. Shouldn't 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. Also, there are schools out there that offer lessons in both SUV's and compact cars, you just have to look around.
Price Should Not Be the Only Factor.
Driver training is one of the most important investments you'll 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 isn't automatically the best, there is a reason why certain schools charge less than others. Some driving schools cut corners by investing in less safe vehicles, unqualified instructors, and an "off the top of their head" 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.
Will the Driving School 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 you'll 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.
Time to Make a Driving School Decision!
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.