Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

How can parents find safe driving schools?

Posted by lapearce on November 19, 2009

An investigative report at WKYC in Ohio has unveiled some frightening facts at driving schools in and around Cleveland. Since 2006 45 schools have received violations that range from cars with frozen brake pedals to not enough books and instructors in the classroom. One mother, Susan Sigman, thought she put her 16-year-old daughter Lauren in good hands with the school she selected. Then, during an in-car driving lesson the brakes failed at 55 mph. The car was able to coast to a stop without hitting anything, but the situation could have been tragic.

Parents are often advised to take the time to investigate the driving school they chose. However, when the undercover reporter asked three of the schools with violations if they had any violations they all told him no. When he spoke to an owner of two of the schools he said, “Those are just words on paper”.  While the schools all fixed their violations, or were closed down, it is still disturbing that so many schools would have cars unfit to be on a road, or classrooms unsuitable for learning. One school was even caught giving diplomas to students for accomplishing only a fraction of the in-car requirement.

Parents are also advised to look at the cars and make sure they are well maintained. In a perfect world everyone would be able to look at a car and be able to tell if the brakes were in good shape, if the tires were worn, if the shocks were good, and if the belts under the hood needed replacing. But from my experience working with parents, many can’t do this. Parents need to learn because your child needs to learn how to do these things, but when investigating a driving school I suggest you bring someone with you who does know about these things. Try not to pay your mechanic to go with you, but if you have that friend that does some work on his car, ask him to tag along.

Parents are also told to research the company. The BBB is a good place to start, but not all problems are reported. One of the schools with violations has a B+ on BBB, and the BBB doesn’t report violations only complaints.When I googled the same school I could not find any indication that they had violations.

As for going to your state’s or county’s Web site to try and find violations, I have found that it is incredibly difficult to find this information online. If you google “Orange County driving school violations” all the results are for court ordered driving school to remove violations from your driving record. I also could not find the information on the State’s public safety page or the DMV page.

In Los Angeles, restaurants need to clearly display their health code rating on the front window of the establishment,

Restaurateur with clearly visible health code rating

so everyone going in knows if they have an A or a B or heavens forbid a C. There is a Web site where you can search your favorite restaurant and see how it does, and even what the infractions are. My favorite Vietnamese place has the habit of thawing meat in water that’s not running. But I still eat there, because I don’ t leave the water running when I thaw meat either. Restaurants are also checked far more frequently. In Ohio driving schools are inspected ever year with a full inspection that looks at cars every other year.

A lot more people die on the road every year than die of food poisoning, and yet when it comes to driving schools, establishments that have teenagers lives in their hands, it is near impossible to see how they rank.

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