California Drivers Education

California drivers ed consists of a series of classes and real-time training to help prepare residents to become licensed drivers. Drivers education is considered a rite of passage for many teenagers. As such, driving lessons in CA are typically offered in many public and some private high schools as an elective. These school-based programs are managed by the state’s Department of Education. Driving classes are not exclusively available to teenagers, as there are many adults who are also first time drivers. Driver’s education can also be obtained outside of secondary schools at private driving schools throughout the state. These schools are licensed by the California Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and may charge a tuition. Regardless of the provider, these programs provide lectures, readings and practical driving experience to equip students with the skills and knowledge required to pass the California driver’s test and receive a driver’s license. More details on drivers education are provided in the information below, including an explanation of why people use drivers ed and how to enroll in a drivers ed program.

What is drivers education in California?

Drivers education consists of a curriculum designed to teach first-time drivers the basics of operating a motor vehicle and pass the driving exams in California. In this first time driving school, students also learn about various traffic laws in the state and the penalties for violating them. This driving course typically forms a part of a teenager’s high school education, and many high schools throughout the state offer a driver’s education class. The teen driving course curriculum in schools is formulated and approved by the Department of Education and usually consists of two major components: driver education (DE) and driver training (DT). Private driving schools not affiliated with a secondary school also feature the same two components, although each school typically develops its own curriculum. In order for such a driving school to be licensed to teach, its curriculum must be approved by the DMV.

Driver education entails a classroom portion of the curriculum, which includes a minimum of 100 minutes of video presentation as part of the 25 required hours of instruction. A driver safety course segment is typically part of this component and often illustrates the graphic results of reckless driving. The driving safety course segment acts as a precursor to the second component of driver’s education, which is driver training. This component of drivers ed is also known as Behind-The-Wheel Education and refers to the portion of driver’s education that involves practical driving experience. By law, a student must complete six hours of DT, although a teenager’s high school may require additional time. A teenager’s high school may also have additional requirements and rules relating to Behind-The-Wheel Education. A licensed instructor supervises driving lessons at independent driving schools and the vehicles are insured and inspected annually. Drivers education, despite all the lessons it provides, is not responsible for issuing a driver’s permit or license. New drivers are still required to visit a local DMV office to obtain these documents

Learn more about obtaining a California driver’s license and the requirements to receive and maintain driving credentials in the state by reviewing the comprehensive material in our free guide.

Why do people use California drivers education?

Teen driving school offered in California private and public high schools is a convenient way for teenagers to receive driving instruction. These driving classes are typically offered during school hours and may serve as an elective course for many students. This can free up parents from having to practice driving with their teenagers in the evenings or on weekends. Additionally, drivers ed offered through secondary schools is usually free for students enrolled in California’s public school system and it may be included in a private school’s tuition and fees. Since the drivers education curriculum needs to be approved by either the Department of Education or the DMV, you can also be assured that a student is receiving proper education and training that will help him or her become a licensed driver.

Adults, as well as teenagers who do not have access to driver’s education at their high schools, may elect to attend an independently licensed driving school if they do not have anyone else to teach them, such as a parent or friend. Driving lessons at these schools offer the same education and training as those offered in secondary schools and most offer classes in the evenings or on weekends. For teenagers, a drivers ed course will offer the opportunity to earn a certificate that can be taken to a local DMV office to receive a learner’s permit, which is required to complete Behind-The-Wheel Education.

How to Enroll in California Drivers Education

Drivers ed courses are available to many California high school students older than 15-and-a-half years of age through their secondary schools. Many times, drivers education is offered as an elective class that a student can take if he or she is of suitable age. Any necessary literature and study materials are typically provided in class. However, driving classes may not be available at all California schools, so you should check with your particular school to see if they offer driving instruction and if they include any enrollment requirements or fees. An online driving course may be an option for new drivers who do not have access to driver’s ed programs in secondary schools. Online driving classes may fulfill the classroom component of driver’s ed, but a new driver must still complete the Behind-The-Wheel training requirements. Many driving schools may offer an online educational component in addition to in-person driving instruction. Check with the DMV for licensed driving schools in your area. Before making a selection, be sure to verify all of the driving school’s tuition and fees, as these can vary greatly.

Download our in-depth guide for more details on obtaining a California driver’s license.