Are driving schools better than parents at teaching driving skills?

I have a lot of friends with teenagers who are using driving schools in addition to or in lieu of teaching driving themselves.

A friend out here was so happy with the instructor that taught her first daughter that she used him again for her second. She liked using him because she says he is extremely calm and she thinks the girls take it more seriously coming from him than from them. I was impressed that one of his driving lessons included driving on the freeway to the city’s airport and navigating a fake passenger pick up at the airport. (That’s hard for me! That airport has tons of cars and is difficult to circle.)

A high school friend, Davilyn Keller of Hall County, took the class Fear This For Life (sometimes known as TVOC) with her son. She highly recommended it to all her friends on Facebook. (She also posted videos of the experience.)

“I highly recommend this class, even so much to say it should be required for all new drivers. Defensive Driving courses don’t hold a candle to this course! The students do several runs of sudden braking, several runs of braking and swerving around danger in the road, like a child, and actually a few runs of driving off the road. They also do a course of parallel parking and driving in reverse through the course using mirrors. With all the seriousness of learning, my son and I had a lot of fun and laughed.”

Here’s what the website says about his eight-hour course teaching teens accidents avoidance skills, designed and taught by P.O.S.T. Certified Police Academy Instructors:

“What Is TVOC?

TVOC, (Teen Vehicle Operations Course) is based on? EVOC, Emergency Vehicle Operations Course, which is Internationally known for Police Training for all levels of Law Enforcement, all of our Instructors are Peace Officers Standard and Training Council Certified EVOC Instructors.

  • Our goal is to help teens have a better understanding of accident avoidance skills for today’s driving environment.
  • Who better to teach our teens the skills they need for the street than Police Academy Instructors?
  • TVOC, Experienced Police Instructors, giving their years of experience and knowledge to your teen to use the next time they are behind the wheel.
  • Driving is a hands on activity and you need hands on instruction, TVOC gives you that.
  • Physical vehicle skills, coupled with the knowledge of how and why vehicle behave the way they do, is what makes TVOC so valuable to teens and adults alike.”

I think taking something alone or with your parents would be more effective than taking it with a group of your classmates. I think kids would want to seem cool and wouldn’t take it as seriously. But alone or with their folks I think they could really absorb it.

What other driving courses do you recommend? Do you think teens receive information better from outsiders than from parents? Do you think police or trained driving instructions can teach the skills better (like a swim instructor or diving instructor)?

24 comments Add your comment

Atlanta Mom

January 12th, 2014
10:16 pm

I think it’s better for the parents to have someone else teach the child. Parents can take them out later for more practice.

DB

January 12th, 2014
11:46 pm

TVOC sounds cool as all get-out!!! I would have been all over that if it had been offered! In Georgia, if a teen wants a Class D license (the “intermediate” license), they have to complete a certified drivers ed course and 40 hours behind the wheel (supervised by either an instructor or a driver over 21.) Most of the drivers ed courses can add on x-number of hours of behind-the-wheel instruction (for an additional cost). By the time they had gotten to the class, though, mine had been driving for several months with their learners permit. Both felt that the classroom hours were pretty much a waste of time — the instructor went veerrrryyyy slowly, and basically read out of a book. The stimulators didn’t feel very realistic to them, and, I was very annoyed with my daughter’s instructor, who never took her on an interstate in Atlanta!! Hello?!?! They HAVE to learn how to drive the interstates, or else they will never get anywhere!! When I called and complained, they gave me five extra hours free — so I suspect that the driving instructor was basically in a fog.

We let our kids drive almost exclusively from the time they got their learners. Total immersion. :-) There were a couple of “omigod, WHY did you do that!!’ moves, but otherwise, it seemed to work out for us. When we had an ice storm, I took ‘em up to the mall parking lot and they practiced slippin’ and slidin’ around, getting a feel for what the car felt like when it was icy, driving into a skid, not overcorrecting, etc., etc. They drove in the rain, in the snow, on long trips, on the interstate, on dirt roads, they changed tires in parking lots, they learned how to check fluid levels and tire pressure.

What I never understood were the parents who let their kids get their learners permit, but NEVER allowed them to drive. Your own fear should not get in the way of your child learning a basic life skill. One of the parents at school asked me how long it was before I let my son drive alone with his intermediate license. “About 10 minutes,” I said. She was shocked – her son hadn’t been allowed to drive for THREE MONTHS. Mine got his license at 7:30 am, dropped me off at home and drove on to school. For a while, I was a bit of a Nervous Nelly, having him call whenever he got to where he was going, call before he was leaving to come home, etc. But over time, I relaxed.

HB

January 13th, 2014
12:56 am

I have no doubt instructors would do a better job, because… it’s their job! Based on the course description, it sounds like kids will learn more from it than I’ve ever picked up. I’m ready to take it myself.

Kar

January 13th, 2014
1:37 am

I’ve seen how their parents drive, they need a professional to hopefully teach them the way they SHOULD drive.

Seriously though, it’s not their kids, their cars, etc. so there’s a better sense of detachment and they’re hopefully trained to cover the important things that parents may not remember or know.

Again assuming the instructors do continuing ed and are current on new laws, guidelines, etc.

And yeah, people have more opportunties and conditions than a driving instructor will have over a couple of weeks or months. Like driving in all four seasons and different times of the day.

malleesmom

January 13th, 2014
7:05 am

Very relevant in our world as I have one learning to drive. The child has just completed the classroom portion but not done the behind-the-wheel courses yet. I will be interested to see how much actual drive time she gets. While ATL has all the interstate volume, our challenge is winter driving. Icy roads, black ice and snow packed surfaces. It will be good to have someone other than us teaching her as a supplement.

Macy

January 13th, 2014
7:05 am

Speeding through school zones, smoking, yaking on cell phones, etc. yeah, get the course!

motherjanegoose

January 13th, 2014
8:00 am

Both of mine took driver’s ed. I may be a teacher but I am not patient enough to teach driving. I was pleased with both experiences.

Our daughter had driven through Atlanta several times, in traffic, as we had her drive on the way to the beach. This came in handy when her room mate’s mother died and they had to get her home quickly. I did not drive in Atlanta type traffic until we moved here and I was 29. I was a nervous wreck. The only way you get used to it, is to do it. Probably best with an instructor than your parents…haha! Our son has also driven all over Atlanta, probably more places than I do. He also drove, with my husband, to NM last year. I did not want to keep him company on that trip.

My dear neighbor does not drive on the interstate. She is in her late 40s.

Yes, mallesmom…they may have some important tips we do not know about. Do they drive on the interstate much at all?

Mother of 2

January 13th, 2014
8:00 am

Both of my children took the course, and both were bored to tears in the classroom. The behind the wheel instruction was helpful. They drove with my husband and I in addition to driving with their instructors. Both held on to their learner’s permit for over the required year and didn’t get their actual license until we all felt comfortable with their driving skills.

We got a discount on our insurance because they took a drivers ed class. Also check into a good student discount.

It can fry your nerves driving with your teen. But you also et some quality time together, and sometimes that’s hard to find when they are around 16 years old. Good luck.

LizBeth

January 13th, 2014
9:16 am

It should be a combination of both parents and teachers. My kids learned technique and current law from the driving teachers. I taught them manners and ethics.

mom2two

January 13th, 2014
11:02 am

I have one currently with their permit. We are doing both, with the instructor, and then with me. I ordered a magnet that says “student driver” that goes on our car when my child is driving. I want those around us to understand why the car is sometimes driving “erratically” (got permit this month).

I was told that the 30 hour classroom training was very boring. Maybe Joshua’s law needs to revised.

I am going to look into this course mentioned above.

malleesmom

January 13th, 2014
11:16 am

@ MJG Apparently there is highway as part of the driving curriculum in our world. Thankfully! The parent information video from the driving school says they prefer students learn in the winter. Knowing how to deal with the weather starts early. I remember my first winter driving experiences growing up in the midwest. We have quite some time before the official license test so there is plenty of time to practice. :)

BigBlack

January 13th, 2014
11:16 am

I sent my child to a driving school after trying to teach them how to drive. I lacked the patience and intestinal fortitude to handle it. Between the sheer terror of sitting in the passenger seat next to a minor and a chronic pucker factor off the charts, I decided to let the professionals handle it. The money was well spent and I received an insurance discount.

yuki

January 13th, 2014
11:53 am

I would say both as well. I think classroom training is important as well as lots of practice, especially in this area.

Back when it was my time, my dad taught me on gravel roads out in the country and let me practice. I went to the DMV the day I turned 15 (that was the age in LA back then) and got my license and I was off. I know times have changed though, so I will be really nervous when my son hits that age. For us, no cell phones was a blessing back then.

missnadine

January 13th, 2014
11:55 am

About a year ago I was driving to a volunteering event. I was travelling on a road that had a 45 mph limit. It was early Sunday so just a couple of cars were out on the road. The car in front of me was going maybe 25 mph. The car made a turn, and I did as well, expecting that the driver would pick up speed, but instead, after the turn, they could not have gone past 15-20mph. I couldn’t pass as it was a double yellow. I was getting really mad at them but did not tailgate. I did honk me horn maybe 4 times in a row, and then their car stops. A helicopter mom gets out, walks toward my car and starts screaming at me, telling me she is teaching her son to drive. I told her to teach him the speed limit. So, yes, I think is it better to NOT have the parents teach the kids. I didn’t.

Native Atlantan

January 13th, 2014
12:27 pm

I recommend both. My father would take us to a cemetery not far from the house for our “training”. We could practice all the basics without fear of an accident or the pressure of additional traffic. Seemed to work out well enough but the professional drivers ed., soon followed.

And, as someone else mentioned, based on the driving habit of most adults I encounter around town — professional drivers education is a must.

FCM

January 13th, 2014
12:41 pm

Taking the drivers ed courses also lowers the cost of the insurance. I certainly plan for mine to take the course…that TVOC one does sound cool! If they have it here or FL I am all for it!

Hidden Agenda

January 13th, 2014
1:11 pm

Every moment you are behind the wheel driving your child somewhere you are teaching them how to drive. Keep that in mind while you never use your turn signal, constantly have your phone at your ear, don’t turn on your lights when its raining, cut people off, drive slowly in the fast lane, cut into traffic without waiting your turn, text while driving, etc. A quality class can only undo so much damage.

One would also hope that you would convey more respect from your children than a stranger, but we didn’t end up with such a dysfunctional society by parents commanding respect from their children.

Hidden Agenda

January 13th, 2014
1:13 pm

If you are a lousy driver and don’t want to pass your bad habits onto your children, you should work on your own problem first. The rest of us would ALL benefit from that.

motherjanegoose

January 13th, 2014
1:22 pm

@miss nadine…I am not a honker. I rarely honk at people and sometimes I think I should do it, when things get dangerous. I do hate it when you are at an intersection and the light has JUST turned red ( say you can count to 5) and the person behind you BLOWS the horn at you.

@ Hidden….I agree with your first paragraph. On the second one: teachers tend to realize that many children typically take them more seriously than their own parents. We hear this often from the parents.

After my daughter got comfortable behind the wheel, I let her drive ( with me in my car) as much as possible. I did not want to be the one initially going out with her. I do not have nerves for that. My daughter is a MUCH better at parallel parking than I am. She practiced with her Dad and orange cones in a church parking lot. If we are in the car together, I step out and let her park ….whenever possible. I never mastered that skill. I can do it but it takes me quite a while.

Driving skills are relative to what you are used to. I am much more comfortable in 6 lanes of interstate traffic ( on my side) than when I am in Arkansas and have to try to pass a tractor on a two lane road. That is a skill I lost years ago!

Hidden Agenda

January 13th, 2014
2:20 pm

Motherjane – I see that as one of the major problems with our society. Teachers should not be taken more seriously than their parents. But then that has been the push in government schools for a long time now – cutting the parents out of the process.

Techmom

January 13th, 2014
3:10 pm

I agree that kids should drive as much as possible before getting their license. My son pretty much drove us everywhere as soon as he got his permit, including driving to and home from school which required interstate driving. We also had him drive longer interstate distances and through downtown Atlanta. We started during off hours and using the HOV lane only and progressed to, “we’re going downtown and you need to look for this exit”. We did however sign him up for the classroom training and 6 hours of driving. We waited until about a month before his driver’s test to have him drive with an instructor. This allowed him the experience of driving with someone he wasn’t familiar with who would be evaluating him after he had some knowledge and experience. The instructor basically did an assessment the first hour and then the areas he needed help (looking at signs and parallel parking) were the focus for the remaining hours.

motherjanegoose

January 13th, 2014
4:06 pm

@ Hidden…I have said this to parents and teachers, “The reason teachers may get more respect from children than their parents is because all bets are off once you have seen someone in their underwear!”

I will say that a preschooler crawled under the stall to say hello to me! I was wearing a skirt and sat very still on the toilet. HAHA!

Mine know where I draw the line and even now, as adults, they do not cross it. I never wanted to home school and this is one of the reasons. Typically, teachers are looked at in a different light than mom and dad….unless the parents are disrespectful towards teachers and that is another can of worms. I made sure that mine were very respectful to their teachers.

We had less than 5 incidences in 37 years of education between both of mine, that I felt the teacher was NOT to be respected. Even so, we typically just waited it out. Only one time did we ask for another teacher. Our son get a D in organic chemistry with a very tough professor. He thought he could endure but ended up taking the class over. He got an A in the lab. Go figure.

FCM

January 13th, 2014
4:22 pm

@ MJG I love that about the underwear even if I am not sure I buy into it! I doubt that me in my under drawers is why my kids don’t take me seriously. My guess is because kids “sometimes” see me just having good old fashion fun (maybe at a pool party or playing tag in the yard). Rarely do they see their teachers have fun. I am pretty sure most young kids *think* the teachers live at the school.

catlady

January 13th, 2014
5:14 pm

If the teen and parents have an adversarial relationship, then, no. Or if parents are fruit loops, or poor drivers themselves.