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Driver's Ed Effectiveness is Questioned
Published: Thursday, February 10, 2011

By: Staff Writers

If your teen has been through a Driver's Ed class, you know that a typical 30-hour course includes only six hours of on-road experience in most states. That's hardly enough to give a new driver the experience they need to drive safely.

A survey of literature published in Injury Prevention studied the impact of Driver's Ed in reducing teen driving crashes. The conclusion of the study is shocking. Researchers conclude, "There is little support for the hypothesis that formal driver instruction is an effective safety measure."

Another study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine: "There is no convincing evidence that high school driver education reduces motor vehicle crash involvement rates for young drivers, either at the individual or community level. In fact, by providing an opportunity for early licensure, there is evidence that these courses are associated with higher crash involvement for young drivers."

What's a parent to do?

Acknowledge that Driver's Ed training is important. It can lay a strong foundation on safety and driving laws in your state. But it's not enough to impart the long experience needed to become a safe, seasoned driver, able to handle all the situations that driving in traffic presents. Much more is needed, and that's where Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL) laws in most states come into play.

Study the GDL requirements in your state, and then ride with your teen. GDL laws require teens to ride with parents or other adults, usually for 30 to 50 hours during the initial licensing period. Not only is this supervised driving required by law in most states. Research has shown that parental involvement with teen drivers directly relates to a reduced rate of driving incidents. Talk to your teens about driving. They'll listen. Give them the benefit of your years of experience. They'll learn from you.

Look for additional training opportunities - these include hands-on work you can do with your teen.

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