Learning how to drive is an important step towards getting your freedom. There are two ways you can learn: from an instructor or from your parents. Which option you'll choose depends on a lot of things, including where you live and how you feel most comfortable learning. Be sure to read this article to the end before settling on instructor-taught vs parent-taught driver's ed.
What Is Instructor-Taught Driver's Ed?
If you enroll in an instructor-taught course, you will have a qualified professional by your side when you get behind the wheel for the first time. These men and women are specially trained to teach students everything they'll need to know to stay safe on the road.
In many states, like California and Maine, teenagers have to take instructor-taught driver's ed for at least some hours. Then, once they have their learner's permits, they can continue practicing with their parents.
You can find licensed instructors at traffic schools near you or, if you're lucky, at your high school.
What Is Parent-Taught Driver's Ed?
Instead of going to a driving school, you can enroll in a parent-taught driver's ed (PTDE) program. It allows you to learn from your parents, as long as they're licensed drivers with a clean record and compliant with your state's PTDE requirements.
PTDE programs are still a lot of work! Your parent will probably have to take a few classes or do some readings to prepare themselves. After all, knowing how to drive and knowing how to teach someone to drive are two very different skills.
Keep in mind that only some states allow teens to enroll in PTDE. Texas and Oklahoma, for example, do. Always check if you and your parents meet the PTDE requirements in your state. For instance, if you're in Texas, your parent must have a clean driving and criminal record.
Going Head-to-Head: Pros and Cons of Each Method
Let's make a list of the main benefits and drawbacks of instructor-taught driver's ed vs parent-taught driver's ed.
Parent-Taught Driver's Ed
Parent-taught courses are so popular and desirable because:
They are often more affordable
They are better for teens in rural areas with no traffic schools nearby
They can offer a comfortable and familiar learning environment for teens
But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. Of course, they also have some downsides:
They require a lot of time from parents
"Patient teacher mode" doesn't come easy to every parent
Instructor-Taught Driver's Ed
So the alternative is instructor-taught driver's ed, which has some great perks:
They are taught by professionals with a lot of experience
They are mostly hands-off for busy parents
And, as usual, some not-so-great aspects:
They often require a bigger financial investment
They're not very flexible in their scheduling, which can put a strain on your teen's calendar
Which Type of Driver's Ed Should I Choose?
The best type of driver's ed is the one that best fits your teen's needs. Both instructor-taught and parent-taught can shape them into great drivers, so it's all about finding the right solution for your situation.
For example, if you're a patient parent eager to brush up your driving skills and excited about the demanding hands-on nature of teaching your teen to drive, go for it! Parent-taught seems to be the best choice for you.
But if you're apprehensive about getting into the car with an inexperienced teen and don't trust your teaching skills, it might be best to go the instructor-taught route — and there's nothing wrong with that!
It's All Built on a Solid Foundation
No matter if you choose instructor-taught or parent-taught driver's ed, you must make sure your teen learns the rules of the road. Online driver's ed classes are an awesome way to learn the law of the land, and you can be at their side to keep them motivated and on track. Animations, fun tried-and-true lectures, and practice tests will all prepare your teen to ace the oh-so-dreaded written test.