For the past four days, I sat in a Young Drivers classroom, learning what it takes to drive safely and responsibly. I am late to driving. I was nearly 20 years older than the rest of the students. The experience was eye-opening. (Let me tell you, I do not miss high school.)
At the beginning of the course, our instructor asked why we were there. For the teens in the room, the answer was invariably “because my mom made me”. (My answer? Why am I learning to drive at 35? That’s a long story…)
Young Drivers isn’t cheap. In fact, nothing about driving is cheap, financially or otherwise — and, sitting there surrounding by a group of teens who were eager to learn to drive, I wondered what they knew about the costs of driving, and who would be covering the costs for them. And I mentally tucked driving away as another expensive subject which we will have to broach with my boys in their future.
So your teen wants to drive
What will it cost? (in Ontario)
- MTO Driver’s Handbook (yes, technically you can check this out of the library, but good luck doing so — and reading it is essential for passing the G1 written test): $16
- G1 driver’s license (includes visual test, written test, G2 (1st) road test and a 5 year license): $158.25
- Young Drivers (optional, but after my experience of the past few days, I would require it for my boys): from $919 to $2,788 depending on the package, plus tax.
- G (2nd) road test: $89.25
- A car: let’s assume your teen will use your car. If they are going to have dedicated wheels, the costs will be much higher.
- Fuel: variable, depends on how frequently and how far they drive
- Insurance: varies greatly depending on age, gender, use, driving history, car, etc. G1 drivers often don’t pay at all, but G2 drivers will.
- Other costs: parking at destinations, added wear and tear on the car, etc.
Who will pay?
Thinking ahead for my boys, I can imagine us offering to pay for the Driver’s Handbook and Young Drivers, and requiring the boys to pay the rest of the costs of their driving: licensing fees and tests, fuel, parking, and insurance. Yes, it is expensive, but if they are motivated to drive, they’ll find ways to pay for it. I can also certainly see us taking on more of the costs if we needed the boys to drive places for us on a regular basis (for example, picking up younger siblings or running errands for a family business — not our situation, but very possible for others).
Assuming we were to choose a mid-level Young Drivers package, our costs per child will be give-or-take $1,500 (ignoring inflation). That’s a significant cost, especially when added to regular RESP (higher education) savings of $2,500 per year per child. They would have some fixed costs — the G1 license, for example — and some variable costs (gas, parking, etc).
Learning to drive as a teen isn’t necessarily essential — after all, I’ve got to age 35 without a license, and quite happily. But understanding the costs is essential.