New driving school open in Cove
By Brittany Fholer
There will be a new option for driver’s education when Cove Driving Academy opens the doors to 205 W. Ave E in Copperas Cove on Monday.
Since the passing away of Allen Yanta, of Quality Driving School, in 2015, student drivers in Cove have had to go to other cities or rely on parent taught driver’s education. With Cove Driving Academy, which is located only four blocks from Copperas Cove High School, students can take their driver’s education classes after school and stay in town, according to owner Lee Roy Loya. Inside the room, license plates from 15 different states, including Texas, line one wall on either side of a stop sign.
Loya, who grew up in Lampasas, said he started the Driving Academy because he first realized there wasn’t a defensive driving course offered in town and then realized there wasn’t even a driver’s education course either. He explained that there was a huge difference between drivers who went through a classroom setting compared to those who were parent-taught, especially in terms of accidents and traffic violations and added that he always tells parents they aren’t doing their kids any favors by going the parent-taught route.
According to a 2007 study by the Texas Transportation Institute that analyzed 1.4 million driver records, a mail survey of young drivers and nine focus groups of teen drivers, their parents and driver education instructors, Texas teenagers who were taught to drive through the parent-taught driver’s education were more likely to be involved in serious traffic crashes. The study also found that once the supervisory and Graduated Driver License restrictions were removed, parent-taught drivers were nearly three times more likely to be involved in a fatal crash than young drivers taught by commercial or public school driving instructors.
Loya said that while he wasn’t sure of the psychological reasoning behind the results, he figured that student drivers would probably feel more pressure to be more accurate and safe with a stranger compared to their parent or family member. He also added that the other students could add competition which might help make them want to be better drivers.
“Whatever makes them better students, better drivers, safer on the roads,” Loya said.
Loya served in the Coast Guard and was in the U.S. Customs and Border Protection in Houston before he became a V.A. police officer. He shared that when he was in Houston, he saw all sorts of traffic violations happening.
“If you’ve ever driven in Houston, that’s one of the frustrations,” Loya said. “You can be in a marked car or a not marked car, they don’t care.”
He also compared the driver’s education experience of Houston and bigger cities to that of Cove and Lampasas.
“Here you have time to be safe, when you stop at a stop sign,” Loya said. “In Houston, you have people behind you and the pressure is on. They’re honking their horn, they’re ready to go.”
Cove is a safer area for student drivers to practice in, especially if they drive in the Cove Driving Academy car, which shows that a student driver is driving, he added.
Loya will be one of the instructors at the Driving Academy, joining two others who are teachers in the area. To be a driving instructor, they must complete a 135-hour three-part course that covers researching the case laws and state requirements, driving and the classroom teaching portion, Loya said.
Each student will receive a copy of the Texas Department of Public Safety Texas Driver Handbook and a copy of the AAA “How to Drive: The Beginning Driver’s Manual.” During the course, each student will learn the safety standards for cars, such as how to check their tire pressure and keep their vehicle safe, Loya said.
Classes, which begin Monday, September 4, will be held Monday through Friday at 4:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. with a second class option available after 6:30 p.m. until 8:30 p.m. The classroom can hold 14 students currently but Loya said he hopes to be able to expand to increase that number.
The course, which includes the two books plus 32 hours of classroom instruction and 14 hours of in car instruction and observation, is $410, but Loya is holding a Grand Opening special and offering a 10 percent discount for anyone who signs up for the opening day, which would bring the total down to $369.
There are also options for just the 32 hours of classroom instruction, at $240; just the 14 hours of in car instruction and observation for $280; or purchasing additional hours of instruction if needed. Students or their parents can pay online through the website or by going to the classroom downtown.
A payment plan is offered on the website for the full $410 package, breaking it into three payments. Cove Driving Academy cars may also be rented for $85/hour for the D.P.S. driving test, according to the website.
More information can be found on the website Covedrivingacademy.com or through their Facebook page Cove Driving Academy.