Drivers ed leads to fewer crashes among teens

Study: Teens who skip driver's ed have more problems on road

(AAA image)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Although vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens, fewer new drivers are participating in what used to be considered a rite of passage: driver education.

State funding and requirements for these programs have declined over recent decades, leaving uneducated teen drivers vulnerable on America's roads. New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety reveals that teens that skip this important step are involved in more crashes and receive more traffic convictions compared to their peers that participated in driver education.

"This research proves our teens are safer on the roadways when they participate in driver education," said Sandy Maxwell, director of driver training programs or AAA. "New drivers should take part in this critical step of the learning-to-drive process because it makes a significant difference."

This study assessed examples of U.S. and Canadian driver education programs using a variety of evaluation methods including surveys, driver's licensing tests, driver simulators and the review of driving records. The results revealed that several key differences exist between teens who receive driver education and those who do not, including:

* Driver education is associated with a lower incidence of both crashes and convictions -– reducing crashes by 4.3 percent and convictions by nearly 40 percent.

Teens who completed driver education not only scored higher on the driving exam, they also demonstrated modest increases in knowledge over their peers who did not take any 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," noted Peter Kissinger, president and CEO of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety. "This underscores the need for states to adopt the NHTSA-supported Standards that are designed to enhance the scope and quality of driver education."

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