Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Iowa House endorses option of parent-led driver's ed for teen drivers

(Radio Iowa) - Republicans and two Democrats in the Iowa House have voted to let any Iowa parent certify they've taught their child to drive, so the teenager can try to get a driver's license. It would end required completion of driver's ed courses at their local school, a commercial driving school or the DOT's online courses before a teen is eligible for a driver's license. Representative Joel Fry, a Republican from Osceola, says as a home schooling parent, a state law passed in 2013 has let him teach driver's ed to four of his children.

"I can tell you the amount of time that I spent with that child in driver's education far outweighs the amount of time I received when I went through driver's education in the school system," Fry says.

Representative Sharon Steckman, a Democrat from Mason City, says licensed instructors teach defensive driving skills in challenging conditions parents often avoid -- and driver's ed vehicles are equipped with an extra brake.

"I'm not saying parents are bad teachers," Steckman says. "I'm just saying they do not have the background and 'the brake' to teach their kids to drive."

Fry says parents who choose this option would have a vested interest in teaching their child to be a safe driver.

"Who's going to pay the insurance and liability and all of the damages that would incur should they get in an accident? It's me. It's not the school," Fry says. "It's me as the parent."

Iowa is currently among the majority of states that still require completion of driver's ed courses before student drivers may take the written exam and driving test in order to get their license. Eight states, including Nebraska, let parents certify their child has completed a period of parent-led practice driving rather than a driver's ed course.

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