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

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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! Driving School Rotterdam

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.

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