In-Person Driving Ed vs Online Driver Ed

This is a tricky time for all those who want to learn how to drive. You would think that this is one of those activities that has to be done in person. So, in the ‘hypothetical’ case of a pandemic, there is really no way around it.

Well, let’s just say that there was a time when people felt the same way about shopping for clothes. How are you going to buy stuff without trying it out first? But we found a way to do that now, haven’t we?

The logic applies when it comes to driving ed. The COVID-19 situation has pushed practically every industry into adapting to the virtual world. But some of you might still wonder if it’s the best option. Let’s find out how online driving ed fares when compared to in-person ed and which one is ultimately the better option.

How Classroom Education Works

This is a classic way of learning. You are supposed to do a certain number of hours depending on the state you live and want to drive in. Spending a certain amount of time behind the wheel is also a part of the curriculum. The minimum time requirement for this also depends on your state.

You can do this through a private driving school that has been approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). In some school districts, it is also part of training in the high school curriculum. But most school districts today have chosen to opt out of that. So, we are back to private driving schools.

Pros of Classroom Classes

There are several advantages to doing this thing the old-fashioned way. Let’s take a look at those.

The Instructors Are Certified

Since this way of learning has been around for a longer period of time, the in-person courses have many certified instructors who know what they are talking about. They share the course material and go over it with you. They give you all the information you need for a test and sometimes even provide training in the car. Whenever you have a doubt about the materials or generally about driving, they are right there to give you answers—you have someone to fall back on.

It Is Personable

There is no denying the fact that talking to an instructor and having others learn along with you gives you a lot of people to talk to. That’s always helpful when you are doing something new. You get to share your resources, doubts, insecurities and be excited about the same things. Since there are a lot of other newbies around, you get to be around when someone thinks of a question that probably did not occur to you. And all of you get an answer from the experienced instructor in the room. It’s a win-win for all.

Top-Notch in Terms of Quality

As mentioned before, in-person ed has been around for a long time. The instructors at these schools have been certified and the courses being offered to you have all been approved by the state. So, it is highly unlikely that you won’t get your money’s worth.

What you need to do is keep yourself up to date with the requirements, get a vehicle that is ideal to drive in different conditions and is not distracting while you are learning. As long as you take care of the requirements at your end, the ride should be smooth.

Cons of Classroom Classes

Classroom instruction can be one on one and a comfortable and familiar way of learning. But just because it’s been around for a long time doesn’t mean in-person drivers ed has no flaws. It’s important you know these so that you can make your choices depending on your priorities.

There’s No Flexibility, Really

This is not so much for you as it is for the ones driving you around for your sessions. The problem with in-person classes is that your parents or guardians or friends will have to take time out of their schedule to make it happen.

You might be doing this over the summer or spring break but your folks still have work and other stuff to take care of. They might love to take you to your classes but every now and then something is going to come up that causes a problem. This is the babysitting phase of life all over again. And in some states, if you miss a class you might have to re-do the entire course. If you were doing the course online, none of this would have been an issue at all.

The Environment Can Be Distracting

It’s great to have peers and possibly make new friends and bond over similar things. But it is worth considering that it might be a distraction too. You might be committed to learning but anyone who has been in a classroom knows that there will always be students who keep disrupting the class.

Not everyone is going to share your sense of focus and eagerness. In this case, you might also experience people being reckless behind the wheel because they think it’s fun. None of that is helpful to students who just want to learn and move on. If you’re not doing this at your local school, you don’t want to be paying for the course and not get its worth.

How Does Online Education Work?

Learning this stuff online, on the other hand, might seem like a novel experience that not many have gone through. Well, that’s not true. We didn’t all get internet access yesterday. Online driving schools have been around for a while now and have grown greatly in the last decade or so thanks to the rise in technology.

The way this works is that you get the material online through an app or a website. You read through the material and complete the activities on your own. But you do this from the comfort of your home, at your own pace using whichever device is available to you. All you need is the internet and a device to access it. It’s the perfect way to learn without bothering anyone in the family.

Pros of Online Classes

It is clear that convenience is on top of this list. But let’s expand on that a bit.

Your Time, Your Pace

Now, it’s not entirely arbitrary just because it’s the internet. There is a time frame to complete the course but within that, there is a lot of room. We all know that there are days when our body is in the classroom but not our mind. You can avoid that with online learning. You can start and stop a class depending on your convenience. In fact, you can do classes in installments too depending on the amount of free time you have.

At the end of each session, there is a quiz that tells you how much you have retained and no one is looking at the results. So, you really do end up scoring just for yourself. You have to pass them all but you have the option of re-doing them till you get it right. The convenience of having the course available to you 24×7 is just incomparable. As COVID-19 is teaching us, we don’t have to get up and get dressed for everything. You can do it from the bed over the weekend if that’s what works for you.

Works Well for Parents and Guardians

It’s not just about the student’s convenience. Online learning is great for those responsible for the pupils too. No more worrying about syncing schedules or having to take the car out and face the weekend traffic when all they would like to do is sit and home and chill.

And you don’t have to feel guilty about dragging them out. Let the grown ups sit in their shorts and chill while you lean back on your bed and learn a thing or two about driving. You also don’t have to worry about getting late or missing a class (and having to repeat the course) anymore.

And when it comes to getting behind the wheel, your folks will make time. Here’s another fun fact. Somehow, it is expected that parents or guardians know everything about teaching someone how to drive just because they can drive. But many parents have doubts about things like, “when is it appropriate to let them take the vehicle on a highway?” A lot of online courses now have guides for parents so that they don’t end up handing over the keys to the learner prematurely.

Distraction-Free Learning

Since you are alone while doing the course, you don’t have to worry about someone else disrupting the class. If you are worried about the folks or pets in your house doing the same, go into a quiet room that no one is likely to need to use and hang a sign on the door. No matter what the problem, there are a lot of ways of handling it at home. You can’t control people you don’t know and it can be very frustrating when you are trying to concentrate. You can also take breaks whenever you want. Something you can’t really do in an in-person class.

Find out How You Are without Supervision

This is a great test of your focus and concentration. How well can you learn stuff on your own is an excellent question and this is a great way to answer it. Teenagers who are good at doing course work on their own will really shine in an environment where there is no instructor to box you into categories.

This is also a good way to improve online learning skills that will come in handy in the future. The pandemic has definitely changed the way we learn and online courses are going to be quite the rage for a long time even if they eventually turn out to be a fad.

Avoid Some Costs

By taking an online course, you avoid troubles like gas, parking or public transport charges. You must also take into account that you save the time you would have been spending on commuting.

And it’s never too early to learn that time is money. In fact, even the courses are relatively affordable with a lot of them ranging from $50 to $100 including sample written exams and such. If you’re not sure, you have the option of paying a portion of the fee to test out the course before trying it out.

Cons of Online Classes

And as expected, nothing is perfect. As wonderful as it sounds, online learning has some cons too. Obviously.


Asking your parents or guardians for help is not the same thing as asking an experienced instructor who does this for a living. Your folks might know how to drive but are they the best? That’s not always the case. With online learning, you also miss out on the questions others your age and experience have. Those are discussions that you don’t always get to have online.


Not every state has these courses and some don’t meet all the licensing requirements of the state. You must check this before getting enrolled.

Too Much Freedom

Independence is great but if you are not a good self-starter, this is a huge problem. You will need a ton of motivation to get around to taking the classes and sometimes, you might not be able to finish it. This is not uncommon but it is not helpful either. If you are like me and need constant pushing, in-person classes are a better option. And it’s nothing to feel bad about because it just takes the pressure off. You don’t have to get everything done on your own. 

Which One Is Better for You

This is a bit of a tricky question. Online learning is very convenient but in-person classes are what some people need to stay on track and finish the course. But thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, online classes are a better idea. And if you’re still not convinced, here are a few reasons why you should take the virtual leap.

  • Unlike a typical classroom environment, you don’t have to sit and listen to boring lectures at a fixed time. You can look at the curriculum and start with stuff that excites you and use that energy to keep going. And you can do it at your own pace taking as many breaks as you need to.
  • Money might not be a big deal for many but this is an important aspect. Online courses are cheaper than in-person classes and you don’t have to worry about the commute. All these programs offer customer support 24 x 7 x 365 through chat, email or phone calls. It doesn’t get easier than this.
  • As a bonus, a lot of them offer guides to parents so that they can do a better job of sitting next to you when it is time for you to take the wheel.

Parting Words

While the decision between these two schools of thought used to be a personal choice, a global health emergency has given the virtual team a big edge. We’d suggest you stick to that till it is safe for everyone to get out of their homes.

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