Why I Did Not Let My Teenager Get His Driver’s License

My son brought home a paper with the information for drivers training and the costs that were charged for it. I was flabbergasted at the costs they were trying to charge for getting my son just into their classroom, not behind the wheel. In my part of the country the local public school no longer offers drivers education, the cost is way too high. Insurance is just outrageous and the public school systems can no longer justify an expense like this. Now the teens under 18 who want to get a license have to go to a private company to receive that very necessary step toward getting their license.

In Minnesota you have to complete 30 hours of classroom instruction and then an on the road drivers training course. Plus the other things like have a permit and tool around town in mom and dad’s car for six months after completing the behind the wheel training at a private facility or company. This has to be at one of the private and kind of expensive companies that offer this kind of instruction. Some companies that used to offer classes in specialty licenses such as semi or what is called a CDL license have branched out and are now offering this as a way to make even more money.

In my town, which is right next to Fargo, North Dakota, you have one choice. There is another in Fargo so in the Fargo Moorhead area there are two places to go to get your behind the wheel course done at.

When I got my license almost 25 years ago you took a class at high school and they tossed you into a car some local dealer donated with big signs with his logos on it. You got that much needed on the road experience not in the family wagon but in a car that was a dealers and the school provided a teacher for you to get that basic instruction from. Now you have to pay a company to do this course, and pay a lot. I supposed it is pretty cheap with the cost of insurance and upkeep on the vehicles they have you driving but it is still kind of expensive. Over $200 just for the behind the wheel course.

The classroom course can be taken at a community education class and costs $50. And then there’s the cost of the permit and license and such, around $50 or so. This means that the cost for my kid to get his license before the age of 18 is around $300 or more. And this is before he gets the license and my insurance finds out. After they add the cost of my under 18 to the cost of my insurance you can add an average of almost $500 every six months for the youngster to be the primary driver of one vehicle. Depending on the young adults school grades and whether you have him as a primary driver or just an add on to the family car. Also the age of the families vehicles and whether you have full coverage or just minimum will vary the cost of insurance by a lot. But it will not go down, you can expect to pay at least $500 more each six months.

Let’s look at the other side of the coin, when my son turns 18, not too long now, the behind the wheel course is not needed. All you need to do is get the permit, drive around and become comfortable and experienced enough to pass the road test with the local drivers license facility. Pay about $50 and a license is yours, after passing the written and drivers test.

My son may be a little disappointed in not being able to get his license before he becomes 18, but we can’t afford it. The initial cost is not that much the issue. We could wait and scrimp and save, but the insurance would not be a viable cost. For that much money we could buy another vehicle. When he turns 18 and just before he heads across town to go to college, he can get his license. He will not be added on our insurance as an under 18 driver who has no experience and is a hazard to other drivers. That is where the insurance puts under 18 year old drivers, that is why it costs so much for insurance.

If you do not know why the insurance charges so much when you add your teen to your coverage, here’s some statistics:

The leading cause of teenage deaths is motor vehicle crashes.

3,657 teenagers between the age of 15 and 20 died in car crashes in 2003, 14% of all drivers involved in fatal accidents.

25% of all teen drivers killed in 2003 had a blood alcohol concentration of .08, or over the legal limit for legal aged drinkers in every state.

There are more statistics and I’m sure there are all kinds of ones that can scare and threaten you and your 16 to 18 year old with, but I don’t need to go into any. Just know that due to inexperience and showing off as a young adult with his new drivers license to friends accidents and other serious problems with driving will occur. And showing off is the big one for teenagers, accidents occur more when other teens are in the vehicle of a teenage driver. This is due to distractions, teen pressure to do things that are not legal or wise and just immaturity due to age.

Teens are young and have not grown up yet. I don’t care how mature your 16 year old is, when friends get in the car with them they can be pressured into doing things they would not normally do. It’s called peer pressure and can lead to serious results when getting behind the wheel. My son understands we don’t have money to let him drive. Also another part of this is not his driving, it’s others. Look at road rage and all the people who loose their own self control because of stupid or simple mistakes of other drivers. Add the fact that the one driving the car that this other guy is mad at is young and my kid could get hurt.

Some people cab afford to have there under 18 year old get a license, but not all. My son understands and is not that concerned or anxious to get behind the wheel. My wife and I both drive about the same, my style is a bit more aggressive but we both do not speed other than just a little. When on the highway or interstate it is usually others who are zipping by five or ten miles over the speed limit. We have plenty of time to get there and if we’re late, oh well. My son believes the same things we do for the most part. He sees others who behave badly, both behind the wheel and not.

Driving is a privilege and not a right. Many people do not believe or even see this as applying to them, but it does. I drive defensively and not offensively. When going some place, I am going to get there when I do. I do not speed because the store might close without me getting that important item or I might be late picking my wife up from work. She understands when I say that other guy cut me off and he was the one at fault for me being a minute later than usual. But I don’t get mad at him. He doesn’t understand that it’s his blood pressure who will suffer from being mad at others. When other drivers get mad at me, it doesn’t matter. I will probably never see them again and if I do, I’ll wave hello.

I try to teach my son to be nice and behave himself, and it shows that he is and does. He is involved in organizations that help the community, and himself. He is nice and kind to others even if they are not nice to him. He is polite and kind and a lot of other things. He is also understanding that he can get a license when he can afford it and not because he turned 16. Many teens get their license and have no business driving behind the wheel, national statistics show this.

When drunk driving is the cause of one quarter of all teen car crash deaths, mine can wait till he’s 18 and a bit more mature.

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