How Well Do Driving Schools Prepare Teens for the Road?

Disclosure: In any review for a product or service, products or compensation may have been provided to me to help facilitate my review. All opinions are my own and honest. I am disclosing this in accordance with FTC Guidelines. Please see “Disclose” and "Terms of Use" tabs for more information.

Parents are naturally concerned when their kids inexplicably become teenagers
(weren’t they just in diapers?!) and start clamoring for a driver’s license. And since
most parents don’t have the constitution to withstand driving lessons without turning
their teens into nervous wrecks (kicking the floorboards on the passenger side like they
can slow the vehicle with a phantom brake pedal), the obvious alternative is to send
kids off to driving schools where all of the instructors appear to exist in a preternatural
state of calm. But you may be asking yourself, against your better judgment, whether or
not these schools adequately prepare your teen for the road (I say against your better
judgment because if you deem the driving school to be substandard, the alternative may
be that you have to teach your child to drive). So here’s the skinny on what most driving
schools will deliver when it comes to putting your teen behind the wheel.

In truth, it depends on the venue. If your child is able to take a driver’s education
course offered by his high school, he is likely to receive more comprehensive instruction
than the average driving school offers. This is because he will receive extensive lessons
in the classroom setting before heading out in a vehicle. These lessons will likely cover
information that will be on the written test (since most students must get a driving permit
before they are allowed to operate a vehicle), as well as some videos (does anyone else
remember the “crash” video? – my teacher threw a chair down the aisle and scared the
heck out of everyone). AAA also offers a fairly academic course that includes 30 hours
in the classroom and 6-10 hours of lessons on the road (although it is rather expensive,
even for members).

As for other schools, many are less expensive, but they offer only minimal instruction
online (instead of in a classroom) and come with just a few hours of road time with an
instructor. While this may be enough for some resourceful teens, and it could even
result in a license, the question is whether or not it will adequately prepare your teen to
drive on his own. And the answer is probably not. So here’s the rub. Your best option
is a school-sponsored course, but many high schools no longer provide for them thanks
to budget cuts and liability issues. That means you’re either going to have to pay a
lot for extensive instruction or expend your own time and effort in order to save some

Either way, the onus is on you to ensure that your teen knows the rules of the road,
understands the responsibilities inherent in operating a motor vehicle (as well as the
consequences of failing to act in a responsible manner), and is capable of handling just
about any situation he finds himself in while behind the wheel. You’ll need to go over the
driver’s manual (and quiz your teen), spend plenty of time practicing in a variety of road
conditions (not only on city streets and highways, but also during daylight and darkness,
and in both dry and wet weather), and have a serious conversation about his financial
contribution (making him compare insurance quotes online and get a job to pay for a portion
of expenses will help to teach him about the financial responsibilities involved). Driving
school is a good start, but nobody has as much interest in teaching your child to be safe
and responsible as you do, so you need to practice with your teen until you’re confident
that he’s ready to go it alone.


  1. It’s interesting to see you mention 6-10 hours on the road. In the UK, most people need at least 25 hours, while most need around 40 to be ready for the driving test.

  2. I was very pleased to find this site. I definitely enjoyed reading every little bit of it and I have it bookmarked to check out new stuff posted regularly.

Speak Your Mind