Considering Driver's Education Classes

Each state has different rules about when you can get your driver's license and what you have to do to earn it. Check out your state's Department or Bureau of Motor Vehicles (DMV or BMV) Web site to get all the information you need.

Regardless of the differences in the driving and licensing rules among states, you can find driver's education courses in every state; some are even offered through the high schools.

Of course, driver's ed. isn't the only place you can learn to drive. After you've read your state's driver's manual, any competent adult can guide you through the art and science of navigating the roadways.

Here are some reasons you might want to take a state-certified driver's education course:

  • You'll get lower insurance rates. From a parent's perspective, this is one of the best reasons for kids to take driver's ed. The discount on insurance will quickly make up for the cost of the classes.

  • You won't put the family car in danger while you're learning. People do make mistakes. Hopefully, you won't make any mistakes that require bodywork, but if you do, those repairs won't come out of your parents' paycheck.

  • In most states, you can get your license sooner. In Indiana, if you've taken a certified driver's ed. course, you can get your license when you're 16 years and 30 days old; without the course, you have to wait until you're 16 years and 6 months old. The difference is even steeper in Maine, where you have to wait until you're 18 to get your license if you don't take a class.

  • You might be required to take the course. California, for example, requires that you complete a certified driver's ed. study course, which doesn't necessarily involve behind-the-wheel time. Courses are available online, though.

There are a few reasons why you (or your parents) might not think that driver's ed. is the best option:

  • Classes cost money. The initial expense might be too much of a financial burden.

  • You can get your license quicker if you take a course. To a parent, no child ever seems old enough to be out on the road. Considering that automobile accidents are the leading cause of death among teens, it's no wonder that parents try to put off letting their "little babies" get their licenses.

  • Driving classes lack personal attention. In a driver's ed. course, your teacher likely has to split his or her time among a roomful of students. That teacher also probably doesn't know you well and won't be able to "customize" your training to suit you specifically. Your parents, on the other hand, know how you learn and what motivates you. And they won't keep teaching if they know you aren't paying attention!

  • Your parents want to teach you. There are hundreds of personal reasons why your parents might want to teach you themselves — family tradition, the chance to bond with you, or maybe they just don't trust that you'll get a complete auto education in those classes.

All in all, driver's education classes are a good idea. The ultimate decision rests in your parents' hands, but parents can be persuaded by well-formed, logical arguments. If you have a preference either way, you might be able to use the above reasons to bring your parents around to your way of thinking.