Austin Driving School is by far the largest driving school in the Austin, Texas area. What raised an eyebrow for me, however, was the incredibly low Yelp reviews they receive, as well as their F rating with the Better Business Bureau. It seems very strange to me that such a large drivers ed course provider has received so many negative reviews.
The vast majority of the driving school reviews I have on this site are for online drivers ed courses and not necessarily brick and mortar driving schools, but I still wanted to create this Austin Driving School review as a way to simply provide an alternative to using this service (or any other local area driving school).
It’s admittedly a bit difficult for me to give an honest review of Austin Driving School as I am not entirely familiar with them, nor have I gone through their course myself. So, you’ll have to make your own decision about the quality of service Austin Driving School provides based on feedback from prior customers. What I can say for certain is the feedback from prior customers is extremely poor.
What Is The Best Alternative To Austin Driving School?
If the very low reviews of Austin Driving School has you concerned and you haven’t been able to find another local driving school that you are comfortable with, there may be another solution. The state of Texas has a phenomenal program called Parent Taught Drivers Ed or PTDE. This program allows a parent or guardian to take on the role of driving instructor.
This is a fantastic alternative to the typical classroom and behind-the-wheel driving instruction that most of us are used to. With the PTDE program, drivers ed students go through an online drivers ed course such as this one to complete the “classroom” portion of their training. These online drivers ed courses are arguably more efficient than classroom-based training. For the driving portion, a parent or guardian applies to be the “driving instructor” and all driving hours can be legally completed without the use of a professional driving instructor. This not only saves time and money, but is way more convenient.
How Does Parent Taught Drivers Ed (PTDE) Work In Texas?
There is a bit of a process if you want to sign up for Parent Taught Drivers Ed in Texas, but it’s fairly straightforward. I’ve broken down the steps below:
Step 1: Sign up for an online drivers ed course that is certified in Austin, Texas. This is my top recommendation, but I’ll provide you with a few other good options below. Students are able to sign up for PTDE if they are between the ages of 14 – 17.
Step 2: You’ll now need to complete the PTDE application from the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (download here). Be sure to fill out and return this packet quickly as it can take several weeks to receive approval. In the meantime, you can continue completing the online classroom portion.
Step 3: Once you’ve completed the first 6 hours of your online drivers ed course, you can take the driving permit test. Some online drivers ed courses, such as this one, allow you to take the permit exam online, while others will require you to go to a driving facility to complete the exam on-site.
Step 4: Pick up your permit and start driving! Once you have a permit and a parent or guardian has been approved to be the driving instructor, you can complete all of your 44 behind-the-wheel hours with that parent or guardian.
Step 5: Take your driving test, pass that, and you’re done! You now have a provisional driver’s license and can begin driving all by yourself!
Online Alternatives To Austin Driving School
If the PTDE route sounds like a better option than going through Austin Driving School, I have a few suggestions on the best online drivers ed courses you can take. There are many different online driving schools that are certified for the state of Texas, but just make sure if you don’t go with one of my below recommendations that any school you sign up for is specifically certified in the state of Texas! I can’t tell you how many students spend hours and hours going through a course, only to learn it isn’t certified in their state. Don’t make this mistake!
Recommendation #1: Aceable
I have personally reviewed and gone through just about every online drivers ed course out there, but nothing really compares to Aceable in terms of overall quality. This is actually the newest course to be approved in Texas, but this company is headquartered right here in Austin, Texas so you’re supporting a local company if you go with these guys. With this being the newest course, they also have the most updated course content and everything works flawlessly across multiple devices and platforms. This is mostly video-based training, but they have many revolutionary interactive features, a fantastic cast of animated characters, and they actually make the learning process fun. The customer service is fantastic, they receive great reviews across the web, they are priced right, and it is who I recommend to my own friends and family.
Recommendation #2: DriversEd.com
With a name like DriversEd.com, you know this online drivers ed course has been around for a while. Actually, they’ve existed online for more than 20 years and before that, they offered home-based drivers ed courses through booklets and VCR tapes (remember those?). So, if you’re looking for the most well established online drivers ed class, this is it. I personally believe this course is a bit more outdated than Aceable, but it was overhauled a couple years ago to include 3D animations, more interactive features, and enhancements to their apps and mobile-friendly versions of the course. They also don’t receive as high of marks on review services like Yelp, but they are rated much higher than most of the competitors they have. Another advantage to DriversEd.com is that they have their own fleet of behind-the-wheel vehicles and instructors if you still want to have professional driving instruction.
Recommendation #3: Improv Traffic School
Improv Traffic School is always one of my highest rated traffic schools in my online traffic school reviews. This company is the same company that owns the chain of Improv Comedy Clubs across the country. Based in Hollywood, California, they started off several decades ago by creating humor based traffic school programs. As more and more drivers started taking traffic school online, they decided to create online versions of their comedy based traffic school. And finally, they realized they could also expand into the drivers education arena. What I love about this course is their use of comedy. they call it “edutainment” where they educate while they entertain at the same time. It’s a great differentiator for this school and if you have a goofy sense of humor, this could make your learning experience all that much better.
Final Thought About Austin Driving School
I realize this Austin Driving School review wasn’t really a detailed review of their services, but I didn’t feel right about creating a review of Austin Driving School as I haven’t actually gone through their program myself. I HAVE gone through most of the online drivers ed courses, so those are much easier to review.
With that said, I know a lot of people are concerned about the extremely negative reviews that Austin Driving School has received over a long period of time on a consistent basis, so I wanted to make students and parents aware that there are other options, including not using any driving school at all. Most driving schools in the Austin, Texas area seem to receive bad ratings, so it appears that until a high-quality driver training center opens in Austin, going through the Parent Taught Drivers Ed (PTDE) program will be the best option.