Story by Jefferson Bryant, photos courtesy of Cowboy Driving Academy
Nearly all of us grew up with one thing ever-present in our minds–getting that driver’s license. For me, it was nearly instantaneous from birth. My earliest automotive memories are when I used to stand up in the front passenger seat of my mom’s car (yes, I said stand, this was the late ‘70s), mimicking her movements of the steering wheel and working the pedals with my feet, pushing them into the seat cushion. I had the concept of driving down before I could ride a bike. We were a driving family, our 1987 Chevy Suburban has over a million miles on it (multiple engines and transmissions), we drove everywhere. Road trips are a big part of my own family’s life as well.
I started driving when I was about 12, though technically that was on a motorcycle. The principles are the same, as are the rules of the road. I never took a driver’s education course, like many kids my age, my dad taught me. I got a motorcycle license at 14, and I was on my way. That gave me a leg up on the rest of the kids, who started at 15 and half with cars. I had already been driving on the road for 2 years. In Oklahoma, you can still get a motorcycle license at 14, but now that I have kids, I can’t even imagine cutting them loose on 2 wheels here in Stillwater.
Driver’s Education courses are no longer offered as part of the mainstream high school curriculum, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t need one, rather it is simply up to you to teach your children or seek out a driving school. There is a tuition-based summer school course available through the school system if that fits with your schedule. But it didn’t work for us. So, when our oldest child turned 15 this year, we found ourselves searching for the best option for our family’s newest driver. While I have been teaching our kids the mechanics of driving, they need a proper education in driving and traffic laws, I don’t want them taking up my own bad habits. Then we found out that there are quite a few new rules that you need to know before your child can even take the permit test. Luckily, Stillwater is home to Cowboy Driving Academy.
The first thing you need to know is that Oklahoma recently passed a new law that allows kids that have taken a driver’s education course before they reach 15 and half to skip the written test. This saves a lot of time and hassle at the Department of Public Safety, but moreover, it presents you with an opportunity to put your child in front of a professional instructor 6 months earlier, giving your child 6 more months of learning. The number one killer of teenagers is an auto wreck, specifically, single-car wrecks. That means that the more they are taught, the more likely they are to be safe.
What Cowboy Driving Academy does differently from other courses out there is how they teach the kids. While it is a business, they are in the business of selling safety; in fact their motto is SELL- Save Everybody’s Lives Long-term. Brad Finley, owner of Cowboy Driving Academy, doesn’t even like calling it a driving school, rather a “Traffic Safety Business”. Their goal is to teach proper safety and defensive driving to all new drivers. And that does not end on test day either. When I met with Brad to talk about this article, he had just spent two hours with a young man and his parents after the new driver had received his second speeding ticket in 6 months. This is the type of continued service that Cowboy Driving Academy provides.
One of the perks of classes with CDA is the parent class. The first hour of class is dedicated to the parents, the instructors talk to the students and the parents about the courses and what is expected. The state course minimum is 10-hours of classroom training and 6 hours of driving, all completed within 6 months. This is the bare minimum required by the State of Oklahoma.
There are a variety of driver’s education packages available through Cowboy Driving Academy to fit whatever your student-driver might need, including additional driving hours and defensive driving education. All of CDA’s course packages come with unlimited classroom time. Students are encouraged as many classes as they need to feel comfortable. Additional offerings from CDA include a 90-minute practice drive and testing with CDA, which helps your student relax for their test, as they know what is expected and are familiar with the procedures. Nervous drivers tend to fail the first time around. CDA also has valet service for student drives, they can pick you up from wherever and drop you off wherever needed, along with defensive driving training and accelerated drive scheduling to complete your course faster in situations that require it, and then all kinds of extra drives.
Cowboy Driving Academy services Stillwater, Ponca City, Enid, Perry, and Woodward, additionally, they can take your student on drives in Oklahoma City and on the interstate to ensure your new driver has the skills and experience to stay safe on the road for life.