My daughter came home from school on Monday with a handful of flyers advertising driving schools -- and thus began yet another rite of passage.
Back in ancient times (40 years ago, when I was her age), Driver's Ed and Driver's Training were both offered through the high school. In fact, the former was a required course of all 10th graders. This, of course, was before the passage of Proposition 13 and the gradual elimination of programs that do not add value to a student's college application.
We families are now footing the bill for the required education a young driver needs to be issued a license at 16. Maybe that's the way it should be; after all, we're the ones who are using the service. But another way of looking at it is that having educated drivers benefits everyone in the State. I'm also told that kids who have taken the courses and obtain their licenses at 16 have a better driving record than people who wait until they're 18 (and are not required to have the state approved training).
I don't have any statistics for that -- it's just something I've been told. I don't want to find out otherwise, so I'm just going to leave it at that.
Anyway, she will be 15 and one half in a few days and has decided she's ready for this step. I think she's ready, too.
I'M the one with the problem.
Don't get me wrong: I think she will be a careful and responsible driver.
It's the hit to my pocketbook that has me seeing stars.
The cost of online driver's ed plus the required six hours of hands-on instruction a teenager needs to obtain a license at 16 runs from $400-$500. Friends have advised me that classroom instruction is superior to independent online study; that option costs considerably more.
By booking her training off one of the flyers she brought home, I received a nice discount: I felt relieved to be charged just $350. (She said she preferred the flexibility of studying online, and she is pretty disciplined, so I feel good about going with that option.)
But the cost of the training is just the tip of the iceberg. Once she gets that license, we will need to deal with insurance.
I was happy to pretend this wasn't a looming issue...
...but today was the day I planned on paying monthly bills -- and our bank is having some issues with their computer system.
As of 3:00, I still was unable to get into their system. Fortunately, I only had one bill that can't wait until Monday: Our auto insurance premium. And as I waited until the last minute to pay (typical!), an old-fashioned snail mail check might not get there on time. So I called the insurance company and paid by phone...
...and while I had them on the line, I asked them to give me an estimate of how much I will need to budget for a newly minted teen driver.
The good news: While she is on her learner's permit, there is no additional cost to us. She's now been added to our policy in that capacity.
But when she gets her license, our premiums are going to DOUBLE. Instead of paying $2400 per year, we'll be paying closer to $5,000.
The premium would be somewhat less if we buy her a car of her own (with the understanding that she will not get behind the wheel of either of our vehicles). However, we'd still be on the hook to buy her a car, so the savings aren't going to be that much.
So... the kid can get her license. But it may not do her a lot of good.