Is your teen ready to get behind the wheel? If you're like many parents, you want to get them started off right with practical training. Enrolling them in driving school helps them to develop safe habits early on. It can also save you -- and your teen -- money on car insurance premiums. So, what do you look for in a driving school? Think about accreditation, facilities, and quality of instruction.
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Provincial Accreditation Standards
Most provinces accredit driving schools to ensure a minimum standard of instruction. This accreditation makes it easier to choose a good one. Although the schools may vary significantly in terms of price, location, instructor-student ratio, and other factors, you know they at least meet the basics required to provide effective driver training.
Look for confirmation that the school adheres to these standards. You can look on the website of the accrediting body in your province for a list of member schools. In Ontario, that's the Ministry of Transportation (MTO), in Quebec the Driving School Association of Quebec, and in Alberta, it's Alberta Transportation.
Among the standards schools have to meet are the content of their courses. In Ontario, that means they must offer 40 hours of total instruction in a beginner driver education program, with at least 20 hours of classroom teaching.
What to Look for in a Driving School
Beyond meeting the basic requirements, you want to look for signs that the driving school will give your teen a quality educational experience that exceeds the minimum. Here are some things to consider:
Class size. In Ontario, there can be no more than 40 students in a class but MTO says 24 is the ideal number.
Balance between in-class and in-vehicle training. MTO says there should be no more than 2 hours in-vehicle training per day, and no more than 1 hour after 5 hours of classroom instruction.
Instructor to student ratio. This should be small to ensure focused attention. For in-vehicle training, there should be no more than two students for every instructor.
Course availability. Find a school whose location and schedule works for your teen.
Instructor consistency. Double-check that the same instructor will cover all parts of the beginner driver education course. If not, know ahead of time if it is team-taught or if the instruction days are shared between individuals.
Facility and vehicle quality. Visit the school to see where your teen will learn. It should be clean and professional, and the vehicles should be safe and up-to-date on maintenance.
Curriculum content. A comprehensive course will go beyond simple driving techniques. It will include risk management, dealing with challenging conditions, and defensive driving. It will also cover strategies for night driving and highway driving.
Cost. Ask for a breakdown of course fees. You may not necessarily want the cheapest school, but you do want to know what you're paying for -- and what's an optional add-on. Some schools may allow your teen to use a specific car for a test, for example, but only in exchange for an additional charge.
Reduce Premiums on Car Insurance
Getting a driving school credential can get you discounts on car insurance in Ontario and elsewhere across Canada. To learn more about potential rates, check out what's available through InsuranceHotline.com.