One of the things my husband and I discussed as our son turned 15 this year, was whether to get him started on learning how to drive. We realize that driving is very complex and carries the consequence of life and death, so we want to make sure he gets enough practice before driving on his own.
Here’s what we found out, and how we’re going about teaching our son to drive.
Understand the process
Back when I was his age, getting your license was a lot easier than it is today. In Florida, the courses were offered in high school so you learn the rules and laws then take a final test. Next, you’d go down to the DMV for the vision test, and that was it. My son’s school doesn’t offer this program, and the district wasn’t aware of any other schools that offer it either. They mentioned that parents usually seek out a private company for driver’s education. However, I couldn’t find any company that offered a program for the beginner’s permit in the area.
South Carolina participates in the Graduated Drivers License program, which is basically a way to ease drivers through stages of increasing their independence behind the wheel. The program starts with the learners permit where 15 to 16-year-olds have to study the driver’s manual and pass a written test, along with a vision test.
After holding the permit for 180 days, meeting some academic requirements, and driving experience for a set number of hours during the day and night, they can then move on to the restricted license stage, and ultimately obtaining their driver’s license after some time.
Call the insurance company
We reached out to our insurance company to find out how our son learning to drive affects our insurance. We were told that as long as he is driving our car and we are with him, he is automatically covered under the policy.
We inquired about the future costs as well, so we can start planning, but they were unable to give us an estimate at this stage. However, we were informed that once he gets his license, we may be eligible for discounts based on a number of factors.
We suspected that as our son read the manual, he’ll learn about the different stages to obtain his license. So we made sure to set expectations that meeting the requirements for the next phase does not automatically mean he’ll move on to the next stage. We had a discussion with him about taking a disciplined approach to studying the material and passing the exam. We also talked about the role of insurance and the consequences that go along with distracted driving.
This will be an ongoing conversation as he progresses through the process, but we wanted to make sure he understood what responsibilities go along with having the privilege to drive. We are also being more aware of our driving habits so we can set a good example. This may even include reading the manual ourselves as a refresher.
I’m sure my son will have questions as he studies and becomes more aware of the rules of the road, so we plan to be available for that as well.