Receiving a driver's license is a pivotal moment in a teen's life, providing them with both freedom and independence. For parents, this moment translates to much more freedom but also a lot more worry. Driver's education courses help alleviate some of that concern, and for good reason.
Recent studies that have compared teens who took driver's education with those who were trained by parents revealed some startling differences. Young drivers who take driver's education are 4.3% less likely to be involved in crashes and 40% less likely to be convicted of a driving offence. These drivers also demonstrated more general knowledge about driving and tended to score higher on driving exams.
Driver's education courses are required of new drivers in some, though not all, states and they offer several other significant benefits. Here are six of those additional benefits.
Lower Insurance Premiums
It is expensive to insure a teenage driver. Car and Driver estimates that teen drivers' annual insurance costs range from $2,000 to almost $4,000 depending on the exact age of the driver. One of the best ways to reduce those costs is to take a driver's education course. Most major North American insurers offer a discount to young drivers who have completed a driver's education course. These discounts can be as high as 25%, which translates into substantial savings for whoever is paying for a teen's insurance premiums.
Before you sign your child up for a course, call your insurer to determine if they offer a discount and if they have a list of approved courses. Not all driver's education courses provide high-quality instruction, and not all insurers will accept any course.
Increased Mechanical Knowledge
Strong driver's education courses typically offer some instruction on mechanical knowledge, and it is often the stuff that parents or non-professional instructors forget to impart. This includes most fundamentals. Your teen will learn how to change a tire, why it is critical to change your oil on a regular basis, and what to do when a car overheats.
This may seem like basic information. However, it is also critical information if your child is suddenly stuck with a flat tire and no cell service or blows an engine because they were burning oil. They'll know what to do, and that knowledge will reassure you — and provide a safer experience for everyone else on the road.
Knowledge of the Rules of the Road
Adults, especially those who have been driving for a long time, will occasionally forget or even be unaware of some of the road rules as the task of driving becomes an almost habitual part of their day.
Driver's education courses have a set curriculum that ensures your child is taught these rules and more importantly, learns the current versions of these rules. This helps them pass the driver's test, but it also keeps them safer over the long term.
Retaining information for recall when we most need it is directly related to how information is stored in our brains. Recalling things frequently and over the longer term, cements that information in our memory. When we cram from a driving handbook to pass the test, the information is promptly forgotten as soon as the test ends.
In a driver's education course, rules of the road are disseminated, discussed, recalled in tests and practiced in front of peers and the instructor. In other words, the repetition and varying mode of information transmission ensures the rules are far less likely to be immediately forgotten.
Greater Awareness of Hazards
Driver's education courses place a significant emphasis on driver safety. This tends to include the dangers and repercussions of consuming drugs and alcohol while driving. They may even bring in law enforcement officials to reinforce the point. There will also be curriculum dealing with the perils of driver distractions such as cell phones and the local laws that govern distracted driving.
Defensive driving is a technique that many adults have learned by doing. It is not something we think about and may not be something we remember to teach young drivers. Professional driving instructors will focus on defensive driving skills. This can include how to avoid aggressive drivers and how to avoid crashes. Your teen will also be taught techniques for driving in adverse weather conditions including rain, snow and ice. Some driver's education courses offer separate certification for defensive driving, which can also lead to additional insurance discounts.
Driver's education courses place a concerted emphasis on a driver's responsibility for their safety and the safety of their passengers and fellow drivers. The onus for avoiding accidents is on them and no one else. This is an essential lesson, as relying on other drivers to obey the rules and do the right thing can lead to accidents.
This sense of responsibility is also essential in other aspects of driving. It will carry over to a sense of responsibility for the car they are using and the privilege of driving it.
A confident young driver is more likely to pass a driver's test successfully. There is also no doubt that sure drivers are safer drivers. They understand the responsibility of driving a car and have the self-assurance to make snap decisions and respond well in any situation. Drivers lacking this confidence may find themselves panicking in certain situations, which has the potential to cause an accident.
Confident drivers are better drivers, and that provides a desirable peace of mind to parents, particularly parents who are already nervous about having their children on the road.
Find the Right Course — And Get Started!
Good driver's education courses are taught by qualified instructors and based on a curriculum that emphasizes keeping your child and their passengers safe. Do some research and find a course that is accepted by your insurer. Driver's education does require an investment, but that investment will pay off many times over for you and your child.