Do Driver’s Education Courses Help Or Hurt Teens?

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In many of the 50 states throughout the US, driver’s education courses are considered a fiscal and safety benefit. Some states go so far as to require teens to pass these courses. Others add 40 to 50 hours of supervised drive time in addition to successful completion. Still others set these courses aside as an optional part of the educational process.

Historically, insurance companies have seen driver’s ed as a positive, offering discounts for every graduate. In that sense, driver’s ed is very much beneficial. However, there are still some considerations that parents must make when enrolling their kids in a class.


Student Driver Confidence

Whenever your child successfully completes a driver’s education course, he will likely emerge with a greater sense of awareness and accomplishment. This can work wonders for his confidence on the road. However, it can also lead to a false sense of security. That’s why teens must understand that driver’s ed is just one of the many beginning steps to becoming an experienced driver. Experience isn’t earned in a classroom, but instead builds with time.


Responsibilities Of The Road

To build up his confidence and experience, driver’s education courses emphasize the responsibilities of the road. It’s important that your student driver realizes driving is a privilege and not a right. It can (and should) be taken away whenever the responsibilities of the road prove to be too much. A driver’s ed course does a wonderful job of instilling these responsibilities within your teen, but keep in mind that thousands and thousands of teen drivers successfully earn their license each year, only to end up in an accident within a year of attaining it.

Lesson: knowing how to be a safe and successful driver isn’t quite the same as proving that you are. Still, education has to start somewhere, and it should continually be reinforced. Driver’s ed courses successfully manage these two requirements.


Safety In Less Than Ideal Conditions

While the written and driving exams prove that a person has the basic skills to operate a motor vehicle, they don’t go far enough in addressing the less than ideal conditions that every driver will face at some point. Driver’s education courses do a terrific job of preparing student drivers for the unexpected, teaching them how to avoid distractions, how to change a flat tire, and how to handle the car in dangerous weather conditions.

All knowledge aside, though, they cannot create the exact conditions that your child will face when he takes the car out solo. That’s where you as a parent factor in. Children may not wish to admit it in their teen years, but they learn a lot from their parents, specifically when it comes to handling pressure situations.

Your child will pick up many driving behaviors from you, in other words. If you’re constantly checking your cellphone at stop lights and texting while driving, that behavior will likely reoccur in his own driving.

Lesson: driver’s ed builds the framework for safe and responsible driving, but in practice, your child will learn more from you. What are you doing to ensure they learn correctly?


Driver’s Ed And Finances

By now, you may be noticing a pattern, but allow us one more example. Yes, driver’s education courses can and should qualify your family for auto insurance discounts. However, the best in-class performance in the world will not keep those discounts intact if your child gets out on the road and becomes one of the many statistics showing that teens are more high-risk drivers than any other group.

Lesson: driver’s ed is a start, but the benefits are only as good as good driving itself.


In Summary

If you have a teen driver in the family, should you enroll them in a driver’s education course? Definitely. But nothing they learn through a book or a brief class will keep them safe out on the road. That only comes with knowledge, taking responsibility, and ongoing experience. Luckily, they have you to guide them.

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