Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Teens Who Skip Driver Ed at Greater Risk for Vehicle Crash, Driving Convictions, Research Finds

According to a new study, fewer new drivers are taking driver education class, a troubling fact given that vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of teen death. AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says teens that skip driver education are involved in more crashes and receive more traffic convictions compared to peers that participated in driver education.

"This research confirms what conventional wisdom tells us--driver education makes a difference," says AAA's William Van Tassel. The study, which evaluated U.S. and Canadian driver education programs, found several key differences between teens who receive driver education and those who do not:

  • Driver education is associated with a lower incidence of both crashes and convictions, reducing crashes by 4.3% and convictions by nearly 40%.
  • Teens who completed driver education scored higher on the driving exam and demonstrated greater knowledge over peers who did not take formal training.

"Overall, the findings suggest that driver education can make a difference, but there is still much room for improvement in most existing programs," notes Peter Kissinger, AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's president/CEO. "This underscores the need for states to adopt the NHTSA-supported standards that are designed to enhance the scope and quality of driver education."

AAA prioritizes five NHTSA-funded Novice Teen Driver Education and Training Administrative Standards:
  1. requiring a teen's parent/guardian to attend an educational seminar;
  2. ensuring that classroom instruction is completed in no less than 30 days;
  3. requiring annual continuing education for driving instructors;
  4. ensuring standards are met by public and private driving schools;
  5. adopting a comprehensive graduated drivers licensing system that integrates driver education.

AAA and AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety have developed several resources to help teens stay safe on the roads and educate teens and their parents:
  • TeenDriving.AAA.com helps parents navigate the learning-to-drive process.
  • DriversZed is an interactive tool that teaches teens how to react in various driving scenarios.
  • StartSmart Online Parent Session is a 2-hour webinar that explains the licensing process and parents' role, and shows how to make the most of the practice driving that parents are required to complete with teens.