Driver's ed is an abbreviation for driver's education, which may refer to any type of driving class taken by new drivers prior to receiving a driver's license. Driver's ed classes are often given at high schools, but they may or may not be required as part of the curriculum. If a school does not offer a driver's education class, they can often be taken at the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or from an independent instructor. Traffic school and other types of driving courses may be required of those who have lost their license for a variety of reasons, or who simply want to brush up on their defensive driving skills or regain their confidence after being in an accident, but these classes are not typically referred to as driver's ed classes.
When given at a school as part of the required curriculum, driver's ed typically consists of classroom instruction. This may involve lectures, videos, and written tests based on the particular state's motor vehicle laws. Though driver's ed used to involve hands-on instruction on the road as well, this has become less common as class sizes and liabilities have increased. This will vary from one school system to another.
However, some schools offer hands-on driving instruction after school for those who sign up with parental permission. One of the many benefits to taking a driving lesson at a school, however, is that it is free; when signing up elsewhere, there will generally be a fee required. In general, if a driver's education class is offered at school, it is a great idea to sign up for it.
Driver's ed classes from the DMV or an independent instructor will generally always involve hands-on driving experience. This is beneficial because a certain number of driving hours are usually required before taking the driver's license test. However, keep in mind that a driver's ed class that includes instruction behind the wheel requires the student to have a learner's permit already. Classroom instruction does not require a learner's permit, and in fact can be a great way to prepare for the learner's permit test.
Students in a driver's education class will learn the laws of the road, as well as the penalties for not following the law. Classes generally also cover the dangers of drinking and driving, along with other dangerous behaviors such as texting or talking on a cell phone while driving. In hands-on driving experience, students will generally practice basic tasks such as adjusting the mirrors when first entering the car, making left and right turns into traffic, and parking in both parking lots and spaces that require parallel parking, among others. A final benefit to taking a driver's ed class is that many car insurance companies offer discounts to those who take the class, and earn a certificate stating so.