learners permit


Choosing A Driving School For Your Teen

driving school

When the time comes for your teen to get their learner’s permit and begin driving, it can be scary for any parent.  You want to be sure that your child has a good understanding of the rules of the road and feels comfortable behind the wheel, that’s why choosing the right driving school is so important.   Your child’s driving school will provide the foundation of their driving skills, so you want to make sure you are comfortable with your choice.  Here are a few tips to guide you in the process of choosing a driving school:

  • Make sure to look up reviews.  By doing a simple internet search you can find reviews for the school you are interested in.  Look for comments from other parents and contact anyone you know personally who has used the school in the past.  It is also a good idea to check the Better Business Bureau for any complaints that may have been registered against the school.  
  • Call the school and ask how the class will be structured, find out how long the instructors have been teaching, what the student to teacher ratio is, and ask any other questions you may need until you feel comfortable enough to send your child there for driver’s education.
  • Ask what kind of car the school uses for road lessons and make sure your teen would be comfortable in such a vehicle, if your teen is nervous about driving a certain type of car, such as a truck or SUV, you do not want them to have to learn how to drive under those circumstances.  Being a new driver can be nerve-wracking enough without the added stress of being in a car you aren’t sure you can handle.
  • Find out how long class sessions are, some school offer programs that meet more often for shorter amounts of time, or some schools offer an entire course over a few days but each day consists of hours of classroom time.  One program may be better for your teen than the other, so this is another important factor to consider because you want to be sure that your teen is actually understanding the information in the class.
  • Price is a major factor for many people.  Call different driving schools in your area and get some prices.  Ask about any additional fees that may be charged (such as for rescheduling road lessons etc) and ask about their refund policy.
  • Location isn’t everything!  If you’re not satisfied with the school closest to you, driving a town or two over may be worth it to ensure that your teen gets the best possible education course before hitting the open road.
  • Once you do sign your teen up for driver’s ed, make sure you keep any and all documents, contracts, and receipts for your records.

Although this may be a lengthy process, it is worth it to ensure that your teen has a solid foundation before they get their license.  You want them to be as prepared as possible, and feel confident behind the wheel.  A good education is the first step to that, so take the time to choose which school would be best for your teen!

Photo By: Steve Jurvetson

What You Need to Know About Teen Drivers & Insurance

When a teenager brings home their driving learner’s permit there are mixed feelings felt throughout the household. Teenagers ecstatic, their freedom and independence from mom and dad has become a reality. Parents on the other hand need to think about their child – and possibly vehicle’s – safety, insurance, a new/ used or shared vehicle, and new rules. Before a teenager is licensed it’s important to know about insurance needs and teenage driving laws. Read the following bullets for a good overview of what you need to know concerning teen drivers & insurance:

  • Be prepared to insure your teenager: Massachusetts requires, by law, that once your teenager earns their licnese and is living in the same household you must add them to your policy. This is something you should talk to your auto insurance agent about when your teenager earns their learner’s permit.
  • For the lucky ones – choosing a vehicle: Know when purchasing a vehicle for your teen you need to focus on not only how much it will cost to insure, but it’s safety as well. An article by the Milford Daily News pointed out that SUVs have a higher roll over rate as they have a higher center of gravity. The article explained that the size of an SUV may give teenagers a false sense of security although they are more prone to roll overs. Smaller vehicles, such as a two door coupe, carry the risk of more serious injuries and fatalities. Researching crash test results, safety reviews, and road tests will help you determine what vehicle is right for your teenager.
  • Know your premium will go up: Auto insurance premiums depend on a number of factors including: year, make and model of the insured vehicle, number of years licensed, zip code/ location, etcetera. Be prepared to pay an extra premium as teenage drivers are a higher risk to insure and can be costly when adding to a policy.
  • Be aware of Massachusetts learner’s permit laws: If your teenager is younger than 18 years they will be driving with a Junior Permit. For the first six months of driving your teenager may not drive friends unless a licensed driver of 21 years or more is in the front passenger seat. Until age 18 your teenager is restricted from driving between 12:30 and 5a.m. unless with a guardian. On the first offense violating this curfew a teenager will face a $100 fine and 60- day license suspension. Speeding is another great concern for teen drivers thus Massachusetts has imposed strict laws with serious consequences if caught speeding on a junior licnese. When a teenager receives his or her first speeding ticket they will face: a 90 day licnese suspension, $50 licnese reinstatement fee, required to take a Driver Attitudinal Retraining Course and State Courts Against Road Rage course (costing approximately $75 each), and must pass the learner’s permit exam and road exam.
  • Advanced driving courses = benefits: Advanced driving courses, although not required to gain or maintain a licnese, these courses give young drivers better knowledge of what to be aware of while driving. Additionally, various auto insurance carriers will give discounts to those who have completed an advanced driving course.

For more information and tips for safe teen driving please visit the National Safety Council: Teen Driving Website.

Should America Have a National Licensing Age?

As of now a total of 42 states allow teenagers under 16 years to earn a learners permit. Of these states, seven offer permits to fourteen-year-olds. Laws differing by state, allowing young drivers certain privileges and restrictions such as a curfew, number of passengers allowed or licensing age. Representatives Tim Bishop, Michael Castle, and Chris Van Hollen, Jr. began the push for a national standardization of driving permits and licenses April of 2009. The legislative act, dubbed the STAND UP Act, would establish minimum federal requirements for state laws and set a 3 year time frame from enactment for states to conform to the new federal standards.

The www.saferoads4teens.org, website dedicated to this piece of legislation, gives an overview of the STANDUP ACT as follows:

  • States must meet the following requirements under the STANDUP Act:
  • Three stages of licensing – learner’s permit, intermediate stage, and full licensure – should be used
  • Age 16 should be the earliest age for entry into the learner’s permit process
  • Nighttime driving while unsupervised should be restricted during the learner’s permit and intermediate stages, until full licensure at age 18
  • Driving while using communication devices (cell phone calls, texting) should be prohibited at least until full licensure at age 18
  • Unrestricted, full licensure should occur no earlier than age 18
  • Passengers should be restricted – no more than one non-familial passenger under age 21 unless a licensed driver over age 21 is in the vehicle – until full licensure at age 18
  • Any other requirement adopted by the Secretary of Transportation, such as a minimum duration of 6 months and a minimum of 30 hours of supervised driving for a learner’s permit, may be included
  • Compliance with the requirements within the first three years after enactment will make states eligible for incentive grants
  • Three years are provided for states to meet the requirements, after which sanctions are imposed to encourage states to meet the requirements

This is a piece of legislation to keep an eye on, although it is still in the early stages it had the potential to affect drivers across the nation. For further information and updates on the Act’s happenings please visit the safe 4 roads legislative update page.

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