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Plan Ahead for Driver's Ed

When should your kid learn to drive?

Many of us remember "driving" before we could even reach the pedals, happily perched in a parent's lap and steering the car.  As a parent yourself now, you may be anxious for your kid to get that driver's license so you can quit your second (third? fourth?) job as Child Chauffeur.  While your kid's getting big enough to drive, there are a few things to consider before you cut them loose with the car keys.

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Kids need driver training. You can teach them yourself, but be sure to use a structured curriculum such as the Oregon Parent Guide to Teen Driving. Don't make assumptions about how much your kid already knows. Most of my students are shockingly clueless about how cars work. And you may be amazed to find that the rules of the road are a mystery to them, even after they've passed a DMV permit test. Think about what it takes to become a good driver.  How long did it take you? Parents often find it easier to enroll their teen in a state-approved course, where the curriculum is organized and thorough. Bonus benefits of the ODOT-approved course:  1.) less friction between parent and teen, 2.) potential insurance discount, and 3.) no DMV drive test.    

Football, Basketball, Volleyball, Driver's Ed

If you thought your kid had a busy schedule for a 13-year-old, just wait...  Or rather, don't wait.  If your freshman is eager to take up a sport in every season, reserve one season their freshman year for driver training.  Before your 15-year-old takes a part-time job (that quickly turns into a full-time job), require them to complete driver training.  Once your student is commited to an athletics schedule or a job schedule, you won't have time for driver training (not even parent-supervised instruction). If your teen can't pass a DMV test at 16, you will be stuck transporting them to and from every practice field, tournament, and work shift.  If your teen does pass a DMV test at 16 with only rudimentary driving skills, the risk of expensive damages or even tragic loss are quadrupled.


Naturally, you want your teen to survive their first year behind the wheel unscathed. But the odds are against you. Putting a teenager behind the wheel of a motor vehicle is a big risk. Teens need to demonstrate a certain level of maturity and skill before they get a license.  As individual brains develop at different rates, parents must pay attention to their teen's development of reasoning and judgment. Driver training can actually help that development along by introducing specific safe driving habits. The best plan is to begin instruction at 15, practice on a permit for about a year, then get the provisional license.