A Fresh Look at Driver Education in America
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A Fresh Look at Driver Education in America

Filetype[PDF-1004.84 KB]

  • English

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      Final report; 8/31/06-8/29/08.
    • Abstract:
      The objectives of this study were to: (1) identify and review current driver education and training programs in use nationally and internationally; (2) identify best teaching practices for teenagers; (3) examine the optimal sequencing for the presentation of safe driving skills in the classroom and behind-the-wheel training; and (4) assess whether a new approach to driver education would be beneficial. These objectives were accomplished using a survey of the driver education rules and practices in the 50 States performed by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) and Driver Education and Training Administrators (DETA); literature reviews of research on teen crashes, the best teaching methodologies for teenagers, and injury prevention strategies for teens; and an expert panel analysis that compared current teaching practices with identified best practices, combining driver training with graduated driver licensing (GDL) systems. Twenty-three States require driver education for all drivers under the age of 18; in 35 States a teen can obtain an unrestricted license before 18 whether or not he/she takes driver education. In 25 States, a teen who takes driver education can get an unrestricted license at a younger age. At least 18 States offer some benefit (waiving practice driving requirements, knowledge tests, road tests, or younger licensure) if a teen takes driver education. Twelve States said they developed specific curriculum guides for their driver education programs to use. Only 13 of 40 responding States were able to indicate how many teen drivers who received their first licenses in 2006 had taken driver education. Most of the States had both high school and commercial programs in operation; a few accept only one type. Six States accepted Internet driver education and 3 States accepted parent-taught driver education. The great majority of driver education programs include 30 hours of classroom instruction although the lowest number is 8 hours and the highest number is 56 hours. Oversight varies widely among States and often involves multiple agencies if more than one form of driver education is acceptable. The key findings were: (1) driver education appears to do a good job in preparing students to pass State licensing examinations; (2) the expectation that driver education by itself will lead to a decreased teen crash rate is unrealistic; (3) GDL has shown evidence of a significant safety benefit and may benefit from greater parental involvement; (4) expanding driver education training beyond the current classroom and behind-the-wheel training by integrating it with graduated driver licensing may have increased traffic safety benefits for young drivers; and (5) an expanded driver education system would start preparing future drivers at an earlier age and encompass more stringent testing than is characteristic of current driver licensing practices.
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