‘A Fresh Look at the State of Driver Education in America’ from NHTSA
The high rate of driver fatalities among 15- to 18-year-olds has raised the question of whether an overhaul of current driver education practices could produce safer novice drivers. To address this issue, NHTSA conducted a study to (1) identify and review current driver education and training programs in use; (2) identify best teaching practices for teenagers; (3) examine the optimal sequencing for the presentation of safe driving skills in the classroom and during behind-the-wheel training; and (4) assess whether a new approach to driver education would be beneficial.
They found that current driver education appears to do a good job of preparing students to pass the licensing exam. The expectation that driver education will lead to a decreased teen crash rate is unrealistic and beyond what current practice can be expected to achieve. GDL systems give novice drivers experience under adult scrutiny and protection by gradually introducing more risky driving conditions. Multiple studies document that GDL systems reduce the number of 16- and 17-year-old-driver crashes. Greater parental involvement may help and should be an integral part of GDL and of the overall driver education process. Currently there is no formal preparation for parents for this demanding role. Integrating driver education training with graduated driver licensing systems and expanding beyond current classroom and behind-the-wheel training may have increased traffic safety benefits for young drivers.
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