The years go by so quickly, and then one day you wake up and realize it’s time for your kid to start learning to drive. That can be a scary prospect, and of course you want to find the best possible driver’s ed course and the most experienced and knowledgable driving instructor to teach your teen all of the important ins and outs of being a safe driver. If it’s crossed your mind that you’d feel better if you were in charge of doing the teaching, then you’re a perfect candidate for parent-taught driver’s ed, or PTDE, which is allowed in the great State of Texas as long as you meet the qualifications and your child is between the ages of 14 and 17.
Driver Ed in a Box’s PTDE program was developed in 1997 by Patrick Barrett, a well known driver education expert and the former owner of the largest driving school in Texas. Barrett designed his program specifically to teach his own son to drive after he found the state’s program materials to be quite lacking in terms of both curriculum and parent support.
Driver Ed in a Box, which is based in Katy, is one of the first Texas-approved PTDE courses, and it’s still favored by many parents today.
Features of Driver Ed in a Box
Driver Ed in a Box works a little differently than other online driver’s ed courses. First of all, it really does come in a box, and the box contains everything you need to teach your child to drive and everything your child needs to get a driver’s license, including access to the online classroom, which features automatic scoring and the ability for you to track your child progress throughout the course.
Three different boxes are available at three different price points. The most basic box is the Select, which will set you back $157 and includes access to the online classroom, a 15-part in-vehicle video series, 51 video clips, online lesson plans, the Certificate of Completion affidavit that you’ll need to fill out and send back to get the certificate, and a 42-part audio series for you, the parent instructor.
The Deluxe box is $237 and includes everything in the Select box plus training mirrors, the in-vehicle videos on DVD, the audio series on three CDs, a bound Parent Companion book, and Instructor Coaching Videos on DVD and online.
The Whole Enchilada box costs $349 and includes everything in the Deluxe box plus 4 student books and an answer key for the parent.
These prices are considerably higher than most online driver’s ed courses, which range from a low end of $60 to a high end of $150. But if you like bells and whistles, Driver Ed in a Box has you covered there. And if you’re on a tight budget, you can opt for a three-installment payment plan for any of the three options.
Unlike most online courses, Driver Ed in a Box offers a money-back guarantee. If your child is involved in a collision within a year of completing the course, Driver Ed in a Box will refund the full price of the program.
Customer support is available by phone or email during business hours, which are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.
What’s in the Box?
Driver Ed in a Box is for anyone who does not want any “classroom” experience. Here, you will be able to access everything you need from any computer. You just need to sign up and you can start right away.
With this online classroom, you can control your pacing – you can move through each lesson depending on how quick you are.
Students don’t have to wait long because the tests and quizzes are automatically graded and recorded. This means that they’ll know right away if they did well or not.
They can also access quizzes, plus the entire course material, anytime so they can review their answers and their lessons.
The entire course curriculum is also loaded with videos, which makes learning the material easier and more fun. It’s like having Mr. Barrett – DriversEd online instructor – as your personal instructor.
The Driver’s Ed box comes with a spiral-bound book for parents. It’s called the “Parent Companion”. This tool includes in-vehicle lessons, lesson plans & record-keeping materials, coaching tips & diagrams, review of the key points from the Audio Series, a glossary of terms, and the Certificate of Completion.
The in-vehicle checklists will help keep you prepared and organized so that it’s easier for you to stay on track and focused. You don’t have to worry about accidentally leaving something out.
Meanwhile, your driving logs will give you a simple system to keep track of your child’s driving time. This comes with all the forms and checklists that you need to help your teen obtain his or her permit and driver’s license.
The 17 videos included in the materials will cover 24 different key factors in collision-free driving. These include blind spots, parking, turnabouts, yielding, following distances, and much, much more. In addition, the 42-part Audio Series will teach you how to effectively teach your teen to drive. This series teaches you:
- How to introduce each new concept to your child
- Why the concept is important
- Tips to help your child master each skill
- The three most common errors driver education teachers make
- Parent/student communication techniques
You’ll also get a free Student Driver sign, a black and white sticker that you can easily attach and remove from your vehicle.
Last, but not least, you’ll get two special mirrors:
- the Instructor’s Rear-View Mirror allows you to see what’s happening behind the car without having to crane your neck
- the Eye-Check Mirror for you to observe your child’s eye movements without staring.
How it Works
The first thing you’ll need to do once you receive your box is to fill out the included Texas form DL-92, which outlines the parent instructor requirements, and pay the $20 fee to receive your state-issued PTDE packet. Once you have the packet in hand, your child can start taking the course. After the first six hours of online instruction are complete, you’ll head down to the DPS to get a leaner’s license, and you can begin teaching the driving portion of the course as your child completes the remaining 26 hours of online instruction.
All told, you’ll need to log at least 44 hours of in-car instruction, which includes 7 hours of driving instruction, 7 hours of in-car observation, and 30 hours of supervised practice, 10 of which must be completed at night.
Texas law prohibits your child from spending more than two hours a day on the online coursework, which means that the fastest it can be completed is 16 days.
What Others Say About Driver Ed in a Box
There’s only one review for Driver Ed in a Box on Yelp, but the reviewer gave it five stars. The forums over at Well Trained Mind feature quite a few comments about this program stemming from one user asking about Driver Ed in a Box. Of 23 replies, seven mention this program, and the mentions are all positive, with only one mentioning anything negative: “Yes, it was costly, but it did the trick. PAINLESS driver ed for the parents. Both girls worked through the computer program — they did complain a bit about the S. L. O. W. voice of the narrator. But the program did its job and the girls learned the basic ‘rules of the road’– things they never knew (but thought they did!).”
Other mentions include, “It is such a thorough program!!! Well worth the money,” and,
“Truly, it couldn’t be easier, and it looks like it is quite a bit less expensive than some other options.” One commenter completed Driver Ed in a Box with her daughter but didn’t want to pay for it again for her son, so she’s using a cheaper online program but will “probably ALSO do the Driver’s Ed in a Box for good measure (it’s an excellent program).”
Rating for Driver Ed in a Box
Driver Ed in a Box has been around since 1997, when Texas first began to allow parent-taught driver’s ed. The course is extremely thorough, and it’s guaranteed: If your child completes the course and is involved in a collision within a year, Driver Ed in a Box will refund your entire course fee.
Customer support is available during business hours Monday through Friday, which isn’t as ideal as the extended hours of support offered by a few other courses, so be sure to plan ahead and make sure the login works before the weekend.
The price is pretty steep for an online driver’s ed course, but this isn’t your run-of-the-mill online driver’s ed course. You get a lot of extras, including videos produced by Patrick Barrett, the founder of Driver Ed in a Box, who is a former driving instructor, instructor trainer, and the author of a number of books and pamphlets about collision-free driving. And if it helps, you can opt for the installment plan, whereby you pay for the course over three months.
Driver’s Ed in a Box doesn’t leave much to be desired in a parent-taught driver’s ed course, and that’s why we’re offering up all five stars for this stellar, thorough PTDE program.