For many young Canadians getting behind the wheel for the first time is a right of passage, a milestone on the highway to adulthood. But the excitement of independence often overshadows the sobering fact that each year thousands of drivers are injured or killed in car accidents.
The key to preventing tragic traffic fatalities is instilling a skill-set of safe driving practices in young drivers. That’s why insurance companies often offer lower car insurance rates to young drivers who have taken a driver’s training course. While driving school lessons cost on average around $600, the insurance savings can be more than double that when stacked up against the initial expense. Investing in driver’s training pays off – lowering the insurance premiums of young drivers and helping them develop confidence surrounding the rules (both written and unwritten nuances) of the road.
Here are tips for getting the most out of driver’s training:
Find the right driving school
It’s not as ambiguous as it sounds. If you’re a new driver there could be dozens of schools available and not all are accredited. To tap into available insurance discounts you’ll want to find a school that’s approved by your province’s Ministry of Transportation.
Meet with the instructors
You’re going to be spending a fair bit of time, in class and behind the wheel so you’ll want to make sure the people teaching you the essentials of driving fit your personality. There are a lot of accredited driving schools out there, so if you’re not fussy on the instructors look elsewhere for someone you feel you can learn from the best. Meet with both the in-class and the behind-the-wheel instructors.
Less is more
Find out what the student to in-class instructor ratio is; the fewer the students the better. In Ontario, for example, the maximum ratio is 40 students to one instructor, but MTO states their preference to be a 24 to 1 ratio. The fewer students in your class, the less divided your teacher’s attention will be and the better chance you’ll be successful.
Solicit feedback on driving lessons
At the end of the lesson, chat with your instructor and get a full overview of what you’re doing well and what you could improve on. Make mental notes. If there’s something you aren’t comfortable with yet, like parallel parking or highway driving, let your trainer know so they can coach you through it. Remember, everyone starts at the same point, so there’s nothing embarrassing about taking your time to build up to advanced driving techniques. Learn at your own pace and get feedback to track your progress.
Practice makes perfect
As with anything, practice, practice, practice and confidence (and skills) will follow. Stay calm while behind the wheel and try to get in extra time with a parent, relative or other qualified driver – even if it’s just to practice the tough stuff or specific skills like three point turns. When you’re a passenger, watch other drivers and try to pick up any good habits or tricks they’ve developed (while ignoring the bad). The lessons lay the framework, but it’s up to you to take the initiative to ensure you’re driving safe.