Parent-Taught Drivers Ed in Texas

Written by Michael Purser

Teens in Texas can’t earn a provisional license until they complete a training course approved by the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR). If you are a new motorist in the Lone Star State, you need drivers ed.

You have options. Completing your education doesn’t mean sitting in a classroom for dozens of hours. This article explains the requirements for teen learners and your options for state-approved programs.

Required Training for Teens

All prospective drivers under the age of 18 are required to complete an approved training program and present a DE-964 Texas Driver Education Certificate at the Department of Public Safety (DPS) as part of the licensing process.

The full teen learner program consists of 32 hours of classroom instruction and 44 hours of supervised behind-the-wheel practice. You can start learning as early as 14, but you can’t get your permit until at least age 15.

A knowledge test is required to assess your understanding of lesson material. You can either take the test during your license appointment or complete the exam during driving school.

There are three ways to satisfy state education requirements. The first consists of in-person learning. The other two are available online.

Private/Public Schools

When most people think of driving school, they imagine sitting in a classroom either after school or in a strip mall. That is always an option. But it takes a long time.

Lessons are usually one or two hours long, meaning you are going to be returning to the same classroom for the next four to eight months, and that doesn’t count the behind-the-wheel practice. Don’t forget the hassle of catching a bus or having someone drive you to and from your classes.

In-person classes can also get pricey. Private in-person lessons with a licensed instructor may cost you hundreds of dollars for a full package, making it the most expensive way to prepare for your first license.

Parent-Taught

If you would rather skip the classroom setting, you can choose to learn from a parent or guardian instead. This is called Parent-Taught Driver Education (PTDE). Instead of paying for a professional instructor, you can choose your parent, guardian or another approved adult to teach you the rules of the road.

Parent-taught driver education courses teach all the same material you would learn in a commercial school. You just get to use your own home as the classroom and your family member as the teacher.

But the convenience doesn’t end there. By choosing online parent-taught drivers ed, you also get to set the schedule. You and your parent can work on lessons whenever you want. Sit down after dinner and go over road signs or spend a Saturday afternoon studying right-of-way.

The only catch is that the instructor you choose must be approved by the state of Texas before you can start learning. Make sure to stop by the TDLR website to request authorization and read up on instructor requirements.

As your instructor, your parent or guardian will also have to do an extra piece of paperwork — they must fill out part of your DE-694 form when you visit the DPS licensing office.

Self-Taught

You don’t have to rely on an adult to learn the rules of the road. You can also choose to study independently through an online Self-Taught Drivers Ed course. This Texas online drivers ed program follows the same classroom curriculum as the two options above, providing the necessary 32 hours of instruction on traffic laws and vehicle operation.

You get total freedom to train at your pace and master lessons on your own terms. You do not, however, get to skip the 44 hours of supervised practice driving. To satisfy that requirement, you will still have to enlist the help of a parent, guardian or commercial instructor.

PTDE Details

Online Texas parent-taught driver education is the ideal choice to satisfy your TDLR driving school requirements. One convenient package gives you all 76 hours of instruction and practice, all the necessary paperwork (minus the state-issued PTDE guide) and the permit test.

As soon as you finish the first six hours of the course, you can take the included Highway Sign and Traffic Law Exam or head to a DPS office to take your test there. With a completed exam, you can apply for your learner’s permit and start practicing as you continue to learn next to your parent.

PTDE helps you become a safe and effective motorist. Lessons focus on traffic laws, defensive driving habits, the basics of vehicle maintenance and other crucial subjects that will prepare you for your first license.

This course includes the following lesson modules:

  • Module 1: Traffic Laws
  • Module 2: Driver Preparation
  • Module 3: Vehicle Movements
  • Module 4: Driver Readiness
  • Module 5: Risk Reduction (Management)
  • Module 6: Environmental Factors
  • Module 7: Distractions
  • Module 8: Alcohol and Other Drugs
  • Module 9: Adverse Conditions
  • Module 10: Vehicle Requirements
  • Module 11: Consumer Responsibility
  • Module 12: Personal Responsibility

Throughout the class, you will participate in several practice activities that will help you engage with lesson concepts and master the crucial skills you need as a new motorist.

At the end of each module, you must pass a chapter quiz. You have three attempts to pass each one or you will have to register for the class again and restart. The course itself has no final exam, but you will need to pass the knowledge test to get your learner’s permit and complete a road test before you get your license.

Next Steps

Once your parent-taught driver education course (or other driving program) is complete, you are almost ready to apply for your first-ever provisional license!

There are a few more things to do before the DPS issues you a license, though. As a teenager, you will have to wait at least six months after getting your learner’s permit before you can graduate to the provisional license. That should give you plenty of time for more practice behind the wheel.

Then you need to complete the Impact Texas Teen Drivers Program, pass the road skills test and provide a bunch of documents proving your identity, citizenship (or legal presence) and residency in the Lone Star State during another trip to the licensing office.

After all of that, you can expect your card to arrive in the mail in approximately two to three weeks.

Remember, though. Before you can do anything else, you have to enroll in and complete your education. If you are at least 14, you can start today! Bring your parent and sign up for SafeMotorist’s online Texas Parent-Taught Driver Education course.