BBB tips for taking the right turn when learning to drive

June 07, 2011

It’s almost summer, one of the most popular seasons for driver’s training.

In California, driving schools are required to be licensed and instructors are required to have a DMV Occupational License as well as specific training in the teaching techniques. In addition, instructors must be 21 or older and have no felony or morals convictions.

According to the DMV web site (,

California law requires a person under the age of 18 to complete the following driver education and driver training courses:

  • 25 hours of classroom instruction (not including breaks or time for meals), or home study or Internet training program (must be equivalent to classroom instruction requirements). As part of the education, students will view 100 minutes of video/dvd footage of traffic and driving situations
  • 6 hours of Behind-the-Wheel training
  • 50 hours of supervised driving practice that includes 10 hours of driving during darkness

Your BBB recommends taking the following steps when choosing a driving school in your area:

For information on driving schools in your area, start your search at for a free BBB Business Review that will help you make informed decisions.

Call several schools to find out about the course schedules, fees and registration procedures that they offer. Neighbors and friends can be a great resource, as well.

Visit the driving school. Ask to see classrooms and if you could observe part of a course. Ask to see the course book.

Find out if the school has a policy on make-up classes and refunds.

Your best bet for locating a school is to ask friends whose teens have recently gone through driver’s education and training. Remember, budgets are always important considerations but this is one time when you want to get the best instruction, not necessarily the least expensive.

Always visit the driving school facility to check on the cleanliness and condition of the training vehicles. Ask to see their license. Talk to the instructor who will actually be doing the teaching. If you don’t feel comfortable with them, it might be a good idea to move on and check another school.

Finally, don’t forget to check with your insurance agent to see what discounts the company offers for new drivers and what your child needs to do to qualify for them.