Drivers Ed Spotlight – How to Choose the Best Driving School For Your Teen

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 Betty’s 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 it’s 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, it’s in the bag and you’re finally on your way. You get home and look at your to-do list: find college for Johnny. “Well,” you think to yourself, “that’ll take a few days to figure out, I’ll 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 Tina’s enrolled at Uncle Bill’s Driving School and you’re half way to your bed for a nap.

So let’s recap, shall we? You spent an hour and a half buying food for the next week, 2 hours purchasing clothes you’ll wear for a day, you’ll need several days to select that college Johnny will attend for four years, and it took you five minutes to select your daughter’s driver training that she will not only use for the rest of her life, but that will hopefully save her from one of life’s 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)? 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.

Price should not be a 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 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.

Verify the driving school is licensed in your state. 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. 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 driver school lookup service on their website. If a school is not on their list, keep looking!

Review 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? 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 you’d 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 school.

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 they’ve 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 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.

What does the 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. 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. 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 SUV’s and compact cars, you just have to look around.

Make sure the driving school’s instructors are capable. 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. 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.

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 what’s going on with your child. Some advanced schools in California actually provide written feedback after each lesson regarding the child’s progress. One good test of a driving school’s 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 don’t 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?

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 they’re 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 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?

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 you’ll have to go when they are ready to take you. A well-rounded driver 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.

Driving schools should be able to help get your permit. It’s 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 school doesn’t 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.

Is the Driving School involved with the community? Ask them what programs they are affiliated with outside of their own driving school. Do they work with any teen driving organizations like DARE or SADD? Do they go to high schools and talk with kids about driving defensively, drugs and alcohol, etc. Do they champion the high schools in their community, or are they just out to make a profit and don’t give back? A successful school knows that the driver training business is a long term venture and that being a positive part of society is an important part of being around for years to come.

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.

Features of a First-Rate Driving School

If you want to drive safely and comfortably, you must get yourself enrolled at a reputable driving school before trying your hands on the steering. A good driver’s training center always offers courses designed keeping in mind the needs of drivers of all levels. If you check the brochure of one such school, you will come across courses meant for protecting young drivers from causing or becoming victims of road accidents. There will also be courses that are meant for helping people in improving their driving skills. Many also insist their sons or daughters to join a driving school to help them gather knowledge required for passing tests and winning driving license. This article will inform you about the qualities that every top driving school should possess.

Most people only make queries regarding driving school price when speaking to the customer care representative of a driver’s training center. Knowing the fees is definitely essential, but there are things that are more important. For instance, before joining a school offering driving lessons, you must find out whether they conduct both theory and practical classes. This is because for learning the art of driving one must be aware of the features and functions of all parts of his or her vehicle well and should also know how to manage them when driving. Courses offered by a first-rate driver’s training center always make the students attend both classroom lectures and on-field training sessions.

The next most prominent feature of top institutes offering driver’s training is the quality of instructors they appoint. Experience has no substitute; so, when hiring instructors eminent driving schools always look for experience. If the school you are thinking of joining is a trustworthy one, it will surely be represented only by instructors who are themselves seasoned motor vehicle drivers. In addition, all instructors working at top driver’s training centers are professionals with great communication skills; they know how to talk and make people understand different facets of driving. A good organization will never appoint driving instructors who lack a good track record in the field of education; this means: a driving professional must be a successful driving teacher to get a job at a reputable driving school.

Before getting yourself enrolled at a driver’s training center, you must also check the certification and training obtained by instructors working at the organization. This is extremely important because you can learn the art of driving only if you are guided by the right people.

The Importance of Vision in Driving School Instruction

What Is Vision?

Modern driving schools now understand that training teens to manage their visual perception, or simply vision, is a key component of driver training. Through a variety of driving lessons, including classroom, behind the wheel, and computer simulation techniques, novice drivers can be taught to properly manage their vision. It is easy to think of vision as simple eyesight, but vision is indeed a very complicated topic. Vision includes not only the process of seeing, but the interpretation of what is seen, how to react, and where the drivers vision is “aimed”.

Scanning Instruction In Driving Lessons

At first it may sound odd to “aim” your vision, but this is a critical component of driving that experienced drivers take for granted. In a novice teen driver, through a series of driving lessons and experience, they eventually learn how to properly scan and look for potentially hazardous situations. For instance, proper driver’s education instructs a student to scan with their vision in a specific order which can maximize the amount of information that can be used to understand evolving situations. A proper program will be very regimented about scanning instruction and use reinforcement to help their students develop this critical skill while driving.

Aiming Vision

Driving schools also teach the concept of “high aim vision”, which is another key component of the overall driver training process. It is also interesting to note that a large percentage of experienced drivers don’t understand this concept so it is no surprise that novice drivers must work hard to aim their vision properly. In driver’s education one goal is to train students to use high aim vision, which means to look ahead as far as possible. This allows the driver additional time to process the information and react appropriately.

Vision Instructional Techniques

Driving schools use a combination of three instructional formats, which when properly combined, can have a very positive impact on the student’s ability to to avoid potential hazards during the first critical year of driving. The formats are:

  • Classroom. In the classroom, the theory of scanning and vision aim is introduced. Students are shown the proper techniques and given exercises to practice these techniques.
  • Online Simulation. Simulation can help to build the proper habits in students while they’re trying to master the use of their vision. The use of simulation is new to drivers education and can be very effective in bridging the gap between theory and actual hands-on practice.
  • Behind The Wheel. This is where the teen driver gets to actually practice the theory on the road. Its very important that these driving lessons follow-on and reinforce what has been taught in the classroom.

Bottom Line

As the new breed of driving schools begin to emerge, critical skills such as vision management, take center stage. And given new technology, techniques, and research, they are updating their driving lessons to have a greater impact which is resulting in the well being of their graduates.