I read an editorial from the Washington Times today on the HSLDA website entitled “Choice Sought in Driver Training.” The article talked about the challenges that homeschoolers are facing when it comes to teaching their children to drive. We are able to teach every other subject but most states still will not allow parents to teach their children this important skill.
“The bottom line is that no one cares more about the safety of their children than the parent as no one has more to lose than the parent when a child is ill-prepared to receive a driver’s license.”
This is exactly what we have believed for our own family for many years. We have three adult children now and none of them took driver’s training through a school or a drivers’ education company. We decided long ago, after looking at the statistics regarding teen drivers and accidents, that we didn’t think we wanted our kids to be part of those statistics.
So we made a radical decision. We decided that our boys would not learn to drive when they reached the age set by the state (in our case, the age of 16). In both states where we have lived the law allows you to get a license to drive without taking an actual course. The catch is that you must be 18 years old. We made the decision that we would be the ones to teach our children to drive. No one else has as much at stake as we do if our child isn’t well prepared to get a drivers license.
Our boys have received their learner’s permit just after their 17th birthday, have driven in every season’s weather conditions, and then taken their driver’s test on or shortly after their 18th birthday. We feel like they are much more mature by the time they take the wheel alone and unsupervised. And they are safer drivers.
We also do not allow them to ride with inexperienced drivers because we feel there is just too much risk.
We haven’t always been popular with this decision but it’s usually the other party who gets upset, not our children. For the most part, our boys have accepted our convictions in this area without complaint. They know that we have their well being as our highest priority. Yes, there have been mishaps. They are not perfect drivers and have gotten a few tickets for things like forgetting to turn their headlights on. There has also been one serious accident but no one was injured, just the vehicles.
It could be argued that we are holding them back and being over-protective. It could also be argued that it is inconvenient to have teens who have jobs and activities and are still dependent on their parents for transportation. My perspective on this in that I am willing to be a little inconvenienced if it means my children are safe. I also don’t worry about seeming overprotective. We only get one shot at raising our kids. I would rather be a little over-protective than err in the other direction. And from my kids’ perspectives, they haven’t complained about being smothered lately. We have four more boys at home and are planning to continue this method of driver’s training for each of them as well.
Besides the fact that I am trying to keep my boys safe there is also one more consideration. When my sons are all grown up my grandchildren will be riding with them!