By AAA Mid-Atlantic
With new research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety highlighting the steep fatality risks teen drivers face when they transport young passengers, it’s critical that parents be fully engaged in their teen’s process of learning to drive. AAA recommends the use of a qualified, professional driving instructor, which is a requirement to receive a license in some states.
“Quality driving instruction provides the foundation needed for safe driving practices. Instructors ensure their students have the basic skills, knowledge and habits needed for safety on the road,” said Tracy Noble, spokesperson for AAA Mid-Atlantic. “Using a third-party instructor also can eliminate some of the added stress and emotion that can occur between parents and teens and allow a calmer focus on learning to drive safely.”
However, not all driving schools are the same. To help parents identify the best driving school for their teen, AAA offers the following checklist:
Ask friends and neighbors. Seek recommendations and ask why they selected a particular driving school.
Ensure classroom and behind-the-wheel sessions are Integrated. An ideal course integrates classroom and behind-the-wheel training. Classroom time should consist of a structured lesson plan that includes coverage of risk prevention and the fundamentals of defensive driving practices. Behind-the-wheel sessions should correspond with the classroom lesson plan to reinforce and demonstrate the practical usage of the concepts. Beginners learn best with two in-car lessons each week. Driving environments should include residential streets, city traffic, rural roads, highways and limited-access freeways.
Check references and complaints. Check with the Better Business Bureau for any complaints against the school. Ask for references of previous students and parents that can be called about their experiences with the school.
Detailed tips about driving schools, as well as a driving school evaluation checklist, are available for free in AAA’s Choosing a Driving School brochure, which is available to download online from AAA’s Keys2Drive website.
Even with the use of a quality driving school, parental involvement is essential for teens to learn safe driving habits. AAA offers resources to guide parents through the process of their teens learning how to drive through its teen driver safety website TeenDriving.AAA.com. The interactive site provides parents and teens with specific information based on where they live and where they are in the learning process – from preparing to drive (pre-permit) through the learner’s permit and solo driving.