With the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, driving schools around the country have been forced to cancel classes or postpone them for several months, leaving student drivers and their parents in an indefinite holding pattern.
Many of these students and parents are turning to online driver’s ed as a possible solution. With online driver’s ed, students can learn from the safety of home, without risking exposure to a public classroom. In a recent survey of parents of driving students, an impressive 88% of respondents said that extra time at home during COVID-19 presents a good opportunity for their teen to begin an online driver’s ed program.
Some states are even allowing parents to hop in the front seat by introducing parent-taught driver’s ed. This allows driving students to continue working toward getting their driver’s licenses while social distancing measures are still in place.
But what exactly is parent-taught driver’s ed? And how is it different from online driver’s ed? And, most importantly, is parent-taught driver’s ed effective in producing safe drivers?
This post will cover all your pressing questions about parent-taught driver’s ed.
What is Parent-Taught Driver’s Ed?
Parent-taught driver’s ed is a state-authorized driver’s ed program led by parents instead of by driving instructors.
While most state-approved driver’s ed programs require a behind-the-wheel component with a certified driving instructor, some states, like Texas, are seeing the value in allowing parents to instruct their teens in the behind-the-wheel portion of their driver’s training.
How is Parent-Taught Driver’s Ed Different from Online Driver’s Ed?
In most cases, parent-taught driver’s ed and online driver’s ed go hand-in-hand. Online driver’s ed covers the classroom portion of traditional driver’s ed, explaining state driving laws and safe driving principles and practices. Then parents step in to cover the behind-the-wheel portion of driver’s ed that was traditionally handled by a professional driving instructor.
A recent survey reports that 68% of parents trust online driver’s ed as much as a classroom course for teaching students the principles and practices of driving. And a whopping 90% of parents were in agreement that online driver’s ed would be a great option for them if it were allowed in their state.
Driving students can take advantage of online driver’s ed in the growing number of states that allow driver’s ed to be taken online, even if these states don’t yet allow for parent-taught driver’s ed. In this case, students would simply take the classroom portion of their driver’s ed program online, then take the behind-the-wheel portion with a driving instructor.
What are the Benefits of Parent-Taught Driver’s Ed?
Parent-taught driver’s ed comes with several benefits over traditional driving instructor training. Here are a few of the most important benefits of parent-taught driver’s ed:
More control for the parents: When parents lead their teen’s driver’s education, they know exactly what’s being taught and can make sure their teens are absorbing the lessons.
Greater flexibility in scheduling: 52% of parents surveyed stated that starting driver’s ed required (or will require) a lot of rearranging when it comes to schedules. When you don’t have to work around a driving instructor’s schedule, you have more flexibility to work driver’s ed around your schedule.
Save time: Since students of parent-taught driver’s ed don’t need to work around a driving instructor’s schedule, they can usually complete their required hours over a shorter time span.
Save money: Driving with a driving instructor can be expensive since you have to pay for the driving instructor’s time. And because behind-the-wheel instruction is done one-on-one (or in very small groups), the hourly rate is typically substantially higher for behind-the-wheel training than for classroom lessons. Parent-taught driver’s ed allows you to eliminate that expense.
Is Parent-Taught Driver’s Ed Effective in Producing Safe Drivers?
Clearly, there are several benefits to parent-taught driver’s ed, but is it effective in producing safe drivers?
Survey data indicates that the majority of parents believe so:
85% of parents appreciate that being home during the COVID-19 pandemic allows them to personally monitor the completion of their teen’s driver's ed classwork. This helps parents be confident that their teens are learning the information they need to be safe drivers.
76% of parents believe their parent-taught teen would be as safe as a driver who took lessons with a professional driving instructor.
Why 2021 is the Perfect Time for Online Driver’s Ed and Parent-Taught Driver’s Ed
While online driver’s ed is always the more convenient option, and typically the more cost-effective option, when compared to traditional classroom-based driver’s ed, the outbreak of COVID-19 has given us even more reason to choose online and parent-taught driver’s ed.
First, there’s the fact that many driving schools have been deemed non-essential businesses and have been shut-down completely during the stay-at-home orders in many states. 82% of parents agree that if parent-taught courses were available they would be more likely to pursue them during COVID-19 as it would allow them to get started immediately and not have to wait for classes to reopen.
Then there’s the fact that lots of teens have been spending unusual amounts of time at home in 2020 and are getting restless. Why not take advantage of this time to start their driver’s ed class online?
And finally, there’s the safety aspect. Even if driving schools are legally permitted to operate in your state, do you want your teen exposed to public spaces unnecessarily? Young people have held up remarkably well against the virus, but there’s always a risk that your teen could become a carrier of the virus and spread the virus to demographics who don’t handle the virus as well statistically.
Is Online and Parent-Taught Driver’s Ed Right for Me?
The most important factor in deciding whether online and parent-taught driver’s ed is the right decision for you and your family is your state requirements. While many states have approved online driver’s ed, very few have approved parent-taught driver’s ed at this point. Naturally, we expect to see more states rolling out parent-taught programs as concerns over human-to-human virus transmissions grow and our world continues to get more comfortable with technological solutions. But we’re all bound by our state laws. So check your state’s department for driving regulations to see if online and parent-taught programs are possible for you.
Then make sure you’re qualified to teach your teen how to drive. Do you have a valid driver’s license? And are you a good driver?
Lastly, make sure you’re comfortable accepting responsibility for your teen’s driver’s education. If you would prefer to have your teen learn from a professional, that may be the best course of action for your family. But if you’re confident in your ability to drive safely and to pass on those skills to your teen, parent-taught driver’s ed might be the perfect solution for your family.