Parent-Led Driver’s Education Option Causes Concern Among Instructors

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URBANDALE, Iowa — Parents are now legally able to teach their kids how to drive. This comes after Gov. Reynolds signed a bill into law last week.

Instructors at driver’s education sites such as Drive With Cops and Street Smarts aren’t so much worried about enrollment numbers as they are about safety statistics on the road.

The new law not only makes it easier for parents to serve as instructors but changes language to existing state law about lessening requirements for classroom instruction and the number of hours of behind-the-wheel driving instruction. 

Instructors say that time both in the classroom and on the road is important when learning how to drive.

Ed Jennings, personnel manager at Street Smarts, says legislation like this impacts everyone on the road.

“It’s just frustrating when you try to work to get laws that would help keep young drivers more safe, things don’t seem to go anywhere,” Jennings said, “but then when a law comes around that potentially makes drivers less safe, teenage drivers and the drivers around them, then it goes through very quickly.”

If parents do decide to instruct their kids they have to follow approved curriculum, log so many driving hours, and then the student has to go pass a driving test with the Iowa Department of Transportation.

Drive With Cops uses current and former law enforcement officers as instructors. Owner David Kopp thinks the legislation was passed for convenience, and worries kids can pick up bad driving habits from parents.

“Our job is to make sure that you’re safe and everybody in the motoring public is safe,” Kopp said. “This type of a law I don’t think is going to help that. So I’m hoping and praying that most parents say it’s not worth my energy, effort to teach my own child and let the professionals do that.”

Kopp said it should be more of a cooperative effort with parents in order to ensure safety.

“We will start the child off teaching them the right way to drive, building that foundation, and then we want the parents to build on that solid foundation,” Kopp said. “So I’m hoping that most parents will look at it as, ‘OK yes it’s a convenience, but is it worth my chance of having my child get in accidents or getting tickets or having a fatality?”

WHO 13 News reached out to an insurance agent who doesn’t think the new law will impact auto insurance rates. 

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