Your kid’s coming to their first big rite-of-passage: getting their driver’s license. Before getting them behind the wheel (and forcing you to pump the air brake), jumping into driver’s ed classes, or signing up for online courses, share these statistics with your kids.
- Motor vehicle crashes are the #1 cause of death among US teens.
- 16-17-year-old drivers are nine times more likely to be involved in a crash than adults.
- Talking on a cell phone while driving can double the likelihood of an accident.
- Talking on a cell phone while driving can also slow a young driver’s reaction time to that of a 70-year-old.
- In 2015, six teens died every day from injuries suffered during motor vehicle crashes.
The point is for them to understand that driving isn’t a game. That’s why states set requirements to get a license so that teenagers are as prepared as possible to be safe behind the wheel.
Each state has its own requirements so it can be difficult to sort out how to get the process started; we’ve posted a state-by-state overview of driver’s education requirements at the bottom of this post. Each state’s governing authority has approved driver’s ed programs that meet their individual requirements — and some online courses are available.
Make sure to verify that a course counts towards the process of getting a license or learner’s permit before signing up.
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Quality courses include a classroom component, behind-the-wheel practice, and behind-the-wheel observation. There are basic courses designed to meet legal requirements. However, there are also courses that go beyond that with the intent to teach student drivers about different high-risk driving situations and the mental aspect involved when sitting behind the wheel.
“If offered by the local AAA club, attend a Dare to Prepare presentation,” William Van Tassel, AAA Manager of Driver Training Programs, advises Parentology readers. “It’s a workshop designed to help parents and teens fully understand how the learning-to-drive process works today: Graduated Driver Licensing, insurance implications, permissions required, and more.” He also recommends TeenDriving.AAA.com as a great starting point for parents.
Many high school districts offer a driver’s education course, which may be the most convenient — and in many cases, free. Licensed driving schools are another option. A Google search will reveal those available in your area.
Nowadays, online driver’s ed courses are taking the place of face-to-face instruction. There are pros and cons to this, but online classes are often cheaper and can be done at any time. Not all states accept online driver’s education, so again, it’s important to check. AAA offers a nationally accredited and reputable online and in-car training called “How To Drive,” which also varies by state.
Finally, make sure to visit your state’s DMV website. They are the ultimate authority on whether or not your child gets a driver’s license, so make sure to follow their requirements.