How to Choose a Driving School

Professional Teachers Liability

Teachers tend to put off dealing with mundane issues such as professional liability insurance. We assume that some paternalistic institution will take care of us (parents and teachers). Trust me! That paternalistic institution is looking out for its own interests, just as you must look out for yours and your teenagers! I am not suggesting that a school or an instructor might have poor insurance coverage at the school. I am suggesting emphatically that you make it your business to find out exactly what coverage they do have. Your exposure is real! Your instructor and the school are acting in loco parentis while students are in their care. Do you understand fully what the legal implications of that concept are? In recent years, the courts have taken this guardianship status further by holding schools liable for negligence if they fail to protect a child who is hurt, harassed or sexually abused by another student at school. In the past 20 years, several courts extended the surrogate parental obligation further still, finding that schools have a legal obligation to take "reasonable steps" to protect students from hurting themselves. Professional Liability insurance provides protection against claims that the policyholder becomes legally obligated to pay as a result of an error or omission in his professional work (also known as Errors and Omissions insurance).

Auto Insurance

Make sure the driver education and training school carries driver education and training auto insurance. This is different than your auto insurance coverage. The insurance for driver education and training schools will include driver education and training insurance and list the drivers on the policy. Also, check with your auto insurance carrier and let them know that you have started driver education and training with your teenager. Most insurance carriers will not charge for the learners permit stage of a new driver, however, in some states we are seeing this beginning to change. Check with your insurance provideder to be sure.

Program Delivery

With today’s busy schedule and overloaded errands, wouldn’t it be nice not to add a trip to the driver education school every other day or so. Think about it, why would you add one more item to your busy schedule, let alone 15 trips to a school and 15 return trips. We already discussed the two or three weekend training processes so assuming we do the classroom education at no more than 2 hours per session divided into 30 hours of classroom. We have now added 15 round trips to and from the school. Or your student could complete their classroom from home via on line, interactive CD, DVD, VHS or by curriculum manuals. Did you know the comprehension level is generally over 85%? The student must achieve 90% to pass. The choice is yours, so enroll in a school that gives you more than one option.

Parent Training Guide for 50 Hours

Parents need a plan? What do you plan to do for the 50 hours behind-the-wheel training you are required to complete with your teenager? Choose a program that includes a complete lesson plan for the parent 50 hours behind-the-wheel training. Make sure your choice includes the latest videos that include residential, city, and freeway driving. These resources are great visual aids for teaching.

Parents Ride Along

How do they do it? When a parent takes the time for a ride-a-long or two, they can take this lesson and reproduce it for the 50 hours behind-the-wheel training that they will be required to complete (by most states in the country). The information is a great resource and the parents will enjoy many of the great teaching techniques used while teaching the novice driver.

Number of Students in the Vehicle

Recent studies have proven that any more than two students in a driver training vehicle is dangerous and could be fatal if there was a crash. In addition, there is zero benefit to the student for the observation time spent. So why take the risk? There is a benefit to the school when there are multiple students in the car because of the time tracking issues for actual time spent behind the wheel.

Concurrent Training Programs

Concurrent training should be mandatory on your list of requirements. National studies have proven that block studies have failed to produce good drivers. Some schools will teach the 30 hour classroom education in two or three weekends, or six or eight hour sessions over a period of one or two weeks. You are setting your teenager up for failure by this practice. Comprehension of this type of education never exceeds 15%. 85% of the information disseminated is missed completely or forgotten within the first week of completion of the course. Concurrent training works because the student will complete 1 hour of classroom study and then put this knowledge to work behind-the-wheel. One hour of class room study equals two hours behind-the-wheel. 50 hours behind-the-wheel training came for 1 hour per week or 50 hours over a period of one year. No other educational process in the world separates the educational from the practical. The driver education and training industry is the only industry that uses this process for education and training. The driver education and training industry elects this process to save money and/or make more money. For the last 50 years driver education and training processes in the United States have failed because of this practice. Protect your new driver; make sure the classroom education is completed concurrently with the 50 hours behind-the-wheel training.

No Timeline to Complete

Do not let a time line of the school interfere with your training process. Graduated Driver Licensing is based on performance, not a 6 hour clock. You and your student must take all the time needed to achieve the very best driver. The very best student drivers come from extensive time spent on the training process. Teenagers learn at a different pace. The classroom may take a bit longer for some and likewise the behind-the-wheel may take longer with others. Parents will need to access each area of learning before allowing the student to move forward. Parents will want to know what question(s) their student missed or did not understand; after all it could be a fatal mistake.

Updated Progress Reports for Parents

When you pick a driver education and training program for your teenager, get involved with the program. Get reports from each level of progress of your teenager. Practice the driving exercises the instructor and student are currently working on. Practice the classroom information and lessons. Make sure the student has understood the lessons and then continue to cross check the student. This could save a life, and maybe your own.

Vehicle 2 Years or Newer

Protect your student with the very best vehicle. You will pay about $50.00 per hour for the behind-the-wheel training with an instructor. The average driver education and training vehicle will travel about 40,000 per year. A vehicle two years and older will have traveled more that 100,000 miles. Is the car maintained? How are the wheels? Brakes?, Seatbelts?, etc… The older the vehicle the more unsafe it is to train in. Vehicles without air bags, ABS and anti lock brakes, or with worn tires can increase the risk of injury to your teenager. Protect your student.

Workers' Compensation Insurance

Workers' Compensation laws are designed to ensure that employees who are injured or disabled on the job are provided with fixed monetary awards, eliminating the need for litigation. These laws also provide benefits for dependents of those workers who are killed because of work-related accidents or illnesses. Some laws also protect employers and fellow workers by limiting the amount an injured employee can recover from an employer and by eliminating the liability of co-workers in most accidents. State Workers Compensation statutes establish this framework for most employment. Federal statutes are limited to federal employees or those workers employed in some significant aspect of interstate commerce. If the parent was to employ a driver education and training school to teach their teen and the school did not have workers’ compensation for that employee and the employee was injured, then the claim could extend to the parent who hired the school. If the school hired an outside contractor (teacher) to complete the training of the teenager and this “sub contractor” was injured without the proper insurance, then the family would be at risk as the prime contractor because they hired the school who hired the outside contractor “teacher”.

Police Background Check

Always inquire about the background of the employees who will be involved with the teaching of your teenager. This will give you the comfort you will need to help insure the very best safety for your teen. Here are a few questions to ask the driver education and training organization that you are considering:

  • Has there been a police background check "this year" on the employees that will be directly involved with my teenager?
  • Are the employees that are directly involved with the education and the training of my teen insured with workers compensation and professional liability insurance?
  • Do you employ outside contractors to help with the education and the training of my teenager? Is so, are they insured with workers compensation and professional liability insurance?
  • Do you carry auto "driver education and training insurance" on the vehicles that will be used to teach my teenager. - Will the name of the instructor that will be teaching my student appear on the auto insurance identification card?


General Liability

General Liability insurance covers claims of bodily injury or other physical injury or property damage. It is frequently offered in a package with Property insurance to protect your student against incidents which may occur on the school premises or at other covered locations where your student may travel during a class session. Commercial General Liability enables a business to continue operations while it faces claims of certain types of negligence or wrongdoing.

How to Pick a Driver Education and Training School is intended to help parents to pick the right school for their teenager. Some of the information may differ from state to state and by no way is to be used as legal advice. National Driver Training is a non profit organization who wants parents and their teenagers to achieve the very best driver training and education possible. There are many schools in your state that are great schools. Ask the right questions and you will find them.

Wayne Tully
National Driver Training