Driver’s Ed—How Does It Work In Texas?
There are three types of driver’s education accepted in Texas: a private driving school, your local high school (if offered), or… an option growing in popularity: an online course with on-the-road time, supervised by a parent. Regardless of the style, all Texas driver’s education has two parts: the classroom portion and the on-road training. The “classroom” instruction can be done in a real classroom or online. This part takes about 30 hours to complete. The second part is on-the-road training. Texas parents who enjoy the hair-raising thrills of teaching a kid to drive can supervise this training after they’ve registered with the Parent Taught Driver Education Program or outsource the driving instruction to a pro at a private driving school or whatever football coach your local high school could spare for the job.
Texas Driver's Education Online Courses: Which Is Best For You?
The state of Texas lists all of the currently registered online companies offering online driver training from roughly $75 to $100. These online classes consist of videos, cartoons, and graphics that help to explain concepts such as how to react around a school bus and how to parallel park. Although the rules and instruction goals are the same, each company has created its own online course. Some are much better than others. But how can you tell which is best? Car Talk searched the available reviews and found that some rise to the top of the heap.
Here are the best driver’s education programs, according to ratings:
- Aceable.com Typically available at a discounted price of $75, this particular course tops most listings of the best available online courses in Texas. Aceable serves five large states and is well funded. Those who have tried it report a modern and professional feel.
- iDriveSafely.com is another large company with a reputation for being professional. It is also a top-rated course and has in-person driving schools across Texas.
- DriversEd.com is one of the pioneers of this industry and has maintained its Texas course over time. Reviewers liked that this company allows you to try their program out at no cost.
- TeenDrivingCourse.com is not quite as highly rated as our first 3 finds, but they have an A+ from the Better Business Bureau, and are slightly lower priced than the others ($5 less than our top-ranked company).
- VirtualDriveOfTexas.com is also highly rated and is actually based in Texas, giving them a local advantage.
Here’s the full list of TDLR approved courses.
When can you apply for a driver’s license in Texas?
Texas, like every other state in America, has a graduated driver's license program. In Texas, you can begin your classroom driver’s education at 14, but you must be 15 to apply for a learner’s license, with allows you to drive only with direct supervision by a qualified adult. The next stage is the intermediate, or provisional, license. For that, you’ll need to be at least 16 years old and to have held your learner’s license (without incident) for a minimum of 6 months. The provisional license permits you to drive unsupervised, with certain restrictions. Texas prohibits drivers between ages 16 and 18 from taking more than one underage passenger, and from driving between midnight and 5 a.m. This may seem arbitrary, but studies have shown that limiting the number of occupants a new driver can have in a vehicle, and limiting the hours of operation to exclude late night driving, has reduced the death rate of teen drivers and occupants. In our humble opinion, anybody who reads the words “reduced death rate” and doesn’t get why that’s a good thing is probably not someone who’s mature enough to drive. So, suck it up for a year or so. At age 18, assuming you haven’t drawn the attention of law enforcement with your driving antics, and your record is still as squeaky clean as we know it will be, you’ll be eligible to apply for an unrestricted driver's license.
How do you get a learner’s license in Texas?
To get a Texas learner’s license, you must be a Texas resident, at least 15 years old, a lawful resident of the U.S., and have proof of identity and a social security number. If you’re under 18, Texas will want to see your high school diploma, proof of school enrollment with 90% attendance, or proof that you’ve passed the high school equivalency exam (or are enrolled in exam-preparation class). Want to get a license in Texas? Then you better stay in school, kids! The next milestone is the provisional license, which, if all goes to plan, can be obtained by age 16. You’ll need to have successfully completed your driver's education (via your school driver’s ed, a private instructor, or the PTDE program) and pass a driving test. You’ll also need to take a free online 2-hour program called the Impact Texas Driver’s Program (IDT), which is a course about the dangers of distracted driving. Distracted driving from cell-phone use kills under 500 Americans per year according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), fewer than are killed by tire failure. The statistics for teen drivers are downright scary. Alcohol is listed as the primary factor in approximately 10,000 automotive-related deaths each year according to the NHTSA, but many states emphasize the dangers we can see most easily, and Texas is no exception.
What is Texas TDLR?
If you’re trying to get a license in Texas to do anything from driving a car to cutting hair to fitting people for prosthetic limbs, you’ll need to go through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). The TDLR also oversees the Parent Taught Driver Education program. There are currently 22 million vehicles registered in the state of Texas. Nearly one for every person, of all ages, in the state. Driving one of those vehicles has required a license since February 15, 1936, when Texas began issuing driver's licenses to its residents in the basement of a single county courthouse. Texas trailed Massachusetts and Missouri by more than three decades in requiring a license to drive.
What is the Parent Taught Driver Education program (PTDE)?
In Texas, teen drivers who want to skip driver’s ed and parents who don’t want to shell out for a commercial driving school have the option to participate in the Parent Taught Driver Education Program (PTDE) instead. In the PTDE program a parent, or other eligible adult, takes responsibility for supervising and training the teen driver, following a TDLR approved course. Eligible adults must have a legal connection to the teen (e.g., parent, step-parent, grandparent, court-appointed guardian, etc.), have a valid license with fewer than 6 points, at least 7 years of driving experience, and must pass a criminal background check. Full eligibility requirements for the teen driver and supervising adult are here. The supervising adult must purchase a guide from the TDLR, and an e-course from a TDLR-approved vendor, which range from $40 -$100. The adult also commits to 76 hours of instructional time, 32 hours of classroom instruction, and 44 hours of in-car instruction, plus another 30 hours of driving practice.