(gender)queer vegetarian artist co-parenting DDs 14 & 11 with DP and TTC little peanut #3
This is a sticky one, I agree. I have a just-turned 15 year old and the thought of her getting behind the wheel -- even though she's reasonably careful and responsible -- is pretty scary.
I think, in your case, my solution would be to make her earn the money for her driver's ed classes herself (and make the classes a requirement of getting her permit). The logical consequence of that would be that she would have to really take the whole thing seriously in order to apply herself to earn the money and then take the classes. If she really wants to drive badly enough, it will happen. If she doesn't, then she's not ready, and she can wait until she's more motivated and mature.
It's very normal for kids not to know how to get around and it was normal when we were kids too. Some kids in neighborhoods that could be walked or circled on a bike knew their immediate area but for the most part, we all had to figure it out by experience... lots of trial and error. I swear, I got lost so many times but I also learned how to keep a cool head and get myself on the right course.
In our state, you have to be 15.5 to get a permit and have taken either a live or online 11 hour course and get a certificate of completion BEFORE even taking the permit test. After the test, then you have to do the actual 300 dollar driving course and then hold that permit a full 6 months before taking the drivers test (even if you don't get the permit until 16.) Then, you can't drive anyone but yourself, adults and siblings for a full year. I believe there is also a driving curfew that first year. Because of this and the expense of having a car (insurance, fuel, vehicle upkeep,) it's actually pretty normal in our area for kids to wait until 18 to get a license when you don't have to take the classes and there are no restrictions on your driving. I'd say only half of DD's 16-year-old friends have their license.
I've taken a friend's advice and put all the research, appointment making and timing in my DD's lap. DD managed to find an online course a little after her 15th birthday... which I purchased but she didn't touch for 8 months. She's getting close to 16 and only recently has been motivated enough to follow through and TAKE the course (and to be fair, she is a really busy kid with lots of responsibility to others.) That means she won't be eligible to get a license until she's mid-16 and considering how much maturing that's happened since her 15th birthday, I'd say that's going to be perfect timing for her.
So, I'd put it in your DD's lap. Make her figure out exactly what needs to be done and when. If she's super motivated, she'll follow through and likely be ready to drive. If she's not, it'll be delayed until she's ready to be pro-active and lead the process.
In our case, paying for driving lessons (and the increase in insurance) was (and still is; especially since this last child is a boy) out of the question. All our our children had to wait until they were 18 when we could teach them ourselves how to drive and have a job to help with the insurance, gas, etc. for the car. Or they could pay for the lessons themselves. We have always been upfront about our financial situation and they have always known that they wouldn't be driving until they were 18. It wasn't like they thought that they would be getting their permit at 15 and license at 16. In fact, our 3rd dd, at age 28, still doesn't drive and the 2nd one didn't learn until she was 26 and was taught by her husband, then boy friend.