Attending a driving school is required by the state of California for those between the ages of 15 and 18 looking to get their provisional driver’s license. Those over the age of 18 looking to get a license do not necessarily have to attend a driver’s school or receive in-car driving lessons from an instructor, but the state highly recommends they do so.
Taking your “classroom” portion of driver’s ed is pretty easy with several online California driver’s ed courses to choose from. While some students still prefer taking driver’s ed in a traditional classroom, the online driver’s education route has become the preferred method for most students.
In addition to classroom training, you’ll also need to drive with a California state certified driving instructor to complete your required 6 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. In addition, you’ll need to spend 50 hours driving with a licensed adult and hold your driving permit for 6 months before you can apply for your driver’s license.
You should not take driving lessons lightly. During a time when distracted driving incidents and overall teen accidents are rising, it’s essential for students to learn and practice safe driving habits. The lessons they learn in their driver’s education courses could one day save their lives. Good driving habits are formed early and remain with us for a lifetime, so don’t cheap out on any behind-the-wheel driving instructor. Use this guide to help you find the best California in-car driving lessons.
Word Of Mouth & Reviews Of California In-Car Driving Instructors
When doing a basic internet search, you’ll find dozens of driving instructors in your area. From here, you can research their business pages to compare each one of the instructors. I recommend taking an in-depth look at reviews on places like Yelp and Google Reviews
One of the key components you should keep an eye out for is the pass rate. Instructors will often list the pass rate on their website, but this is a difficult statistic to verify. Compare the pass rate to the general sentiments found in the comments of their reviews. If the numbers don’t quite add up, you should be cautious when considering their quoted pass rate.
For example, an instructor could claim to have a specific pass rate or the percentage of students who graduated their course and went on to get their driver’s license. But if you are reading comments online, and you are finding far more people saying that they didn’t pass, or that they passed but felt very unprepared for the exam, you may want to stay away from that particular instructor.
Another great way to find reviews is on social media. Now more than ever, in-car instructors have begun advertising on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram. They know that their business is designed for teens and that teens are most likely to use these websites. The flip side of this, of course, is that today’s teens tend to be very honest on the internet. This means that they will leave honest reviews on the social media pages of their driving instructors. This too could prove to be a great measuring tool when evaluating potential in-car driving instructors.
The last method you can use to find potential driving instructors is merely talking to your friends and family. Other parents who you associate with likely find themselves in similar situations looking for a driving instructor who can be trusted. Often, the reviews from your peers are more trustworthy than anything you’d find online.
The Biggest Issue Facing California Driving Schools
If any particular driving school receives negative reviews, it’s almost always for one of two reasons:
1. Overbook driving instructors – This is extremely common among driving schools. They will sell you a package and tell you to go on their website to set up the days and times you want to drive. Sound great, right? It is, in theory, but many driving schools have a lack of qualified instructors and they get booked up weeks or even months in advance. Most students want to drive around the same basic times and there are also seasonal fluctuations as well. Driving instructors are much more busy during the summer months, for example. Finding a driving school that doesn’t overbook can be quite challenging.
2. Driving instructors with poor personalities – Honestly, it’s so hard to pair instructors and students because everyone has their preferred method of learning. Some students like their driving instructor to be “to the point” while others find that style intimidating and need a gentler approach. What I usually recommend is to sign up for a driving school that will let you drive with several different driving instructors like this one. That way, if you get stuck with a driving instructor you don’t like, it’s just for one session, plus you get to learn from multiple people with multiple viewpoints.
Research Your Driving Instructor’s Qualifications
After you have used reviews to narrow down the driving instructors you are considering, you’ll need to research their qualifications. There are two main types of qualifications that your instructor could have. Potential driving instructors are considered instructors in training. This means they have received their trainee license. To do so, they have undergone basic training and have passed a criminal background check. If you see a student driving an instructor’s car with a pink license in the windscreen, they are with a potential driving instructor.
On the other hand, your instructor could be fully qualified, making them an approved driving instructor. To become an approved driving instructor, candidates must pass three tests. Become an approved driving instructor gives them the ability to teach under their own driving school name. If you see a student driving an instructor’s car with a green license in the windscreen, they are with an approved driving instructor.
If your teenager completes their six hours of drive time with a potential driving instructor, they will be considered as having completed the license requirement set forth by the state of California. Of course, the difference between the two is experience and cost. An approved driving instructor has more experience and training than a potential driving instructor.
Where this comes into play is the program’s curriculum. The best in-car driving instructors will tailor their instruction to the learning methods of each student. Approved driving instructors have significantly more experience handling this, meaning there’s a better chance that your child will better retain information when practicing with an approved driving instructor. As a result, these instructors will likely have better online reviews.
Training with an approved driving instructor in California will be costlier than training with a potential driving instructor, but many deem this a cost to be well worth it. Many parents feel that they cannot place a price tag on keeping their children safe. The lessons that teens learn with their in-car driving instructor will stick with them for the rest of their lives. These lessons are the building blocks that serve as the foundation of their driving career.
There are very plenty of knowledgeable driving instructors throughout California. For example, instructors like myself recommend services like this. The program has been in existence for over 25 years and has proved successful time and time again. No doubt you’ve seen their little mini-cooper driver’s ed cars around.
Once you have found an instructor you are satisfied with, you should crosscheck them with the database provided by the California Department of Motor Vehicles. On their website, you can lookup any in-car driving instructor by name and region. You’ll want to make sure that any certifications listed on the driver’s site match up with the information found on the state’s website.
Obviously, if an instructor comes up on the state’s website as having not been certified, you’ll want to avoid working with this instructor. Not only can this prove to be dangerous, but your child won’t receive any credit for their state licensing requirements.