Getting Your Michigan Driver’s License Is Harder Now Than When You Got Yours
I can hardly believe it, but I just signed up my fifth child for driver’s training.
Besides being hit hard by the reality that my kid is growing up, I groan inwardly because I am no newbie at this.
Not only have there been changes to the age, curriculum, and licensing requirements (click here for Teen Driver’s Education basics in Michigan), but with most public schools no longer offering driver’s training, your options for where you enroll your teen have changed, too.
Driver’s training is pretty different from when us parents learned to drive, and the reality of it is: there is a LOT more responsibility put on us than our parents had.
This is good, though, because our kids really do need our expertise, opinions, and coaching to become good, safe drivers.
At least that’s what I keep telling myself during the months of my teens driving me around accruing practice hours while I hold my breath and try to not gasp out loud (hint: that makes them nervous).
How to Choose a Driving School
1 – Consider the Driver’s Training Location
You will be driving your kid to driver’s training multiple times a week, usually for three weeks, plus to multiple practice and driving observation times.
Pick a place convenient to you or a place you don’t mind hanging out while you wait.
2 – The Curriculum is Basically the Same at Every Driving School
As far as getting “the right” school, they’re all pretty much the same, as far as what they teach. Driving schools in West Michigan all emphasize getting your kid to drive safely for a lifetime.
Driving habits begin right away, so make sure you are reinforcing what your child is learning in class in order for good habits to continue.
Driving schools emphasize defensive techniques, which teaches them how to drive smartly and avoid accidents, even if they are not in the wrong. Some specifics may be:
- Double check an intersection both ways before entering even after you have a green light.
- Keep an eye on all factors of the road through constant internal monologuing.
- Think about what can potentially happen and plan a way out.
3 – Talk to Local Friends About Their Experiences
Driving schools have basically the same cost, but can vary on their customer service, class options and communication.
Find friends who have gone through this recently in your area to see which schools are offering the best service and timing that fits your needs.
Steps to Getting Your Michigan Driver’s License – There are Several
After “Segment 1” of driver’s training, your child will be eligible to receive what is called a “Graduated Driver’s License.”
GDL is a driver licensing system that gradually increases driving privileges as a teen advances. GDL consists of two segments of driver education instruction and three licensing levels.
Acquiring this first level of the license will require a trip to the Secretary of State’s office with multiple documents for proof of id. Your driver’s training school should very clearly tell you which documents will be required for this first license.
Once your child’s practice hours are complete and they pass Segment 2 of driver’s training, you will sign your child up to take a road test, which includes parking skills (yes, parallel parking).
You can choose from this list of driver testing businesses. After passing the road and parking test, it’s off to the SOS again to get the level 2 driver’s license.
Pro Tip: Check the expiration dates on all levels of your child’s licenses.
The first level of the GDL does expire after a year, and the second level expires at age 18.
While the SOS does automatically renew and mail the second level license to you, there may be a gap of time between when a license expires, and a new one is sent through the mail. This literally just happened to my daughter, which resulted in a week of no driving for her.
Pro Tip 2: Don’t Let Them Have ANY License Before you Talk about Texting and Driving
Texting and driving is super dangerous, yet teens are extremely susceptible to it.
Have open, clear conversations with them about the dangers of texting while driving before you let them have any kind of driver’s license.
And set them up for success wherever you can. Verizon had a good list of apps that can block texting while driving, for example.
Car Insurance Rates Will Go Up – 80 – 100% When You add a Teen
In Michigan, a child does not need to be added until they have a level 2 license.
Of course, you will need to consult with your car insurance provider to discuss how adding your new driver will affect your rates. Basically in Michigan rates go up 80-100 percent when you add a new driver.
Factors include the child’s age, gender, and type of vehicle the child will be primarily driving. Rates continue to increase for each child added, which is really fun for big families.
Rates go down once the child is in their 20s if they have a clean driving record.
Driver’s Training Schools in West Michigan
We’ve put together a list of driver’s training programs in the area to help you sort through your options for you and your teen as you tackle this milestone. Take some deep breaths.
If you thought potty training was a tough ride, you’ll really need to buckle up for driver’s training.
All Star Driver Education | Caledonia, Cedar Springs, Comstock Park, East Grand Rapids, Fruitport, Grandville, Hopkins, Lowell, Muskegon, Pentwater, Ravenna, Rockford, St. Joseph, White Cloud
Buckle In Driving Academy | Grandville, Muskegon
Byron Center Public Schools | The student must either reside in the Byron Center School District or be a student at Byron Center Middle School or Byron Center High School.
Century Driving | Allendale, Big Rapids, Byron Center, Coopersville, Dorr, Fennville, Fremont, Grand Haven, Grand Rapids, Grandville, Hastings, Holland, Houghton Lake, Hudsonville, Jenison, Middleville, Newaygo, Saugatuck, Spring Lake, Wayland, Wyoming
Georgetown Driving School | Hudsonville
Jungle Survival Driving School | Ada, Dorr, Wyoming
Keys Driving School | Grand Haven
Macatawa Driving School | Holland, Jenison, Zeeland
Main Street Driving School | Grand Rapids
Navigator Driving Academy | Howard City, Rockford
Official Driving School | Grand Rapids, Grandville, Holland
Prestige Driving School | Fennville, Hamilton, Saugatuck
RiteWay Driving School | Grand Rapids
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