Driver’s education measurably reduces teen crashes and traffic violations, according to a new study that challenges the prevailing notion over the past 30 years that driver’s ed courses provide no significant benefit.
In the 1980s, many states stopped paying for driver’s ed programs after a study questioning their effectiveness. Some insurance companies even quit giving discounts on premiums for drivers who had gone through formal driver training.
But the more recent study, which followed more than 150,000 new drivers licensed over eight years, found that drivers who have not gone through driver’s ed are 75% more likely to get a traffic ticket, 16% more likely to have an accident, and 24% more likely to be involved in an accident in which someone is injured or killed.
Researchers Duane Shell and Ian Newman, from the Nebraska Prevention Center for Alcohol and Drug Abuse at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, compiled the data set by looking at driving records for 151,800 youth who obtained provisional permits between 2003 and 2010. Just over half, 53%, qualified for the permit by taking a state-approved driver training course, while the rest qualified through 50 hours of practice driving supervised by a parent or equivalent adult.
Driver’s ed showed benefits for teens in their first two years of driving, something the researchers found particularly insightful. “Because teen crashes and fatality rates are highest at ages 16-18, these reductions are especially meaningful,” the study concluded. “Driver education appears to make a difference in teen traffic outcomes at a time when risk is highest.”
The full study can be found in the September issue of the journal Accident Analysis and Prevention.
Reducing Accidents Across the Board
Of course, it’s not just young drivers that should consider driving education. Ongoing education at high-performance driving schools is increasingly being promoted for even average drivers as a way to prevent accidents.
The automotive research and review organization Edmunds recommends adult drivers actually learn how to drive racecars because pushing a car to its limits in a controlled environment can help drivers to be safer even when they’re just heading to the office or dropping the kids off for soccer practice.
And, of course, other factors such as car maintenance also contribute to the overall goal of accident prevention. All too many drivers skip necessary trips to auto repair shops for basic tune-ups.
“There is no doubt, I firmly believe, driver’s education programs reduce accidents and make better drivers,” says Rick Genin, Owner, Genins Auto Care. “Education is key at every level in our society. Preventive maintenance is key also. With good tires, brakes & steering control components stopping distance can be reduced by 50 – 85%. That is very significant.”
The combination of Driver’s Education, vehicle Preventive Maintenance & new vehicle safe technology greatly reduces accidents & saves LIVES, many.”
While the number of fatal crashes has declined over the past few decades due to better auto safety and more awareness around impaired driving, there are still more than 30,000 fatal car crashes each year in the United States, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.