Students take online driver’s ed courses, follow COVID-19 guidelines

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Bailey Maierson

Despite the pandemic, students continue to take online driver’s ed courses.

James Li, Staff Writer

Jackson Harvey always thought he would enroll in an in-person driving class after his 15th birthday. After quarantine began, he found himself taking an online course and practicing at home. Harvey never set foot in a driving school before obtaining his license. 

Harvey and many others enrolled in online driver’s ed programs, which require 30 hours of instruction and 32 hours behind the wheel. Combined with parent supervision, students should be prepared to take the driving test.

“I thought it would be safer if I avoided human contact in the process,” Harvey said. 

In-person driving schools, including Broussard Driving in Houston, have seen a sharp decline in customers. Driving instructor Jasmine Rasmus said that enrollment has decreased around 85% since the start of the pandemic. 

“An in-person instructor-taught driving course is still the safest and most effective way to learn driving in the long run because it’s guided by an experienced professional,” Rasmus said. 

Sophomore Jay Love completed an online driving course in March but wishes he had taken an in-person class.

“In-person driving school is more structured, and the biggest challenge doing it at home is finding the will to get in the car and drive for an hour,” Love said.  

Because of the pandemic, sophomore Drew Adams encountered fewer cars on the road, which made the driving experience significantly easier. 

“Driving is not really a social thing,” Adams said. “Not being able to interact with people outside of my family doesn’t have any substantial impact on the process of learning to drive.”

Students may encounter delays at the Department of Motor Vehicles to take their driving exams. In a report by KPRC, the Texas Department of Public Safety stated: “We are seeing high demand for [Driver License] services in some areas of the state, meaning you potentially have to schedule your appointment farther out due to limited availability.”

Love remains committed to obtaining his license around his 16th birthday in November despite slowdowns from the DMV. 

“I really appreciate the independence that driving affords me,” Love said. “It would be much more convenient to commute by myself from school and back.”

Harvey said that the biggest headache with driver’s ed is that it’s time consuming. 

“If you stick with it and just knock it all out, you’ll find that it was well worth your time.” Harvey said,  “and time is what COVID has given us.”