Issues Library—Parental Rights
Parent-taught Drivers Ed
In the 1940s and 50s, it was usually parents who taught their children how to drive. In the 1960s and 70s, however, the responsibility of driver education shifted to the public school system in the hope that formal instruction would assist teenagers in developing important driving skills. Today, all 50 states require some type of driver education for minors—classroom training, behind-the-wheel training, or some combination of both—as a requirement for obtaining a drivers license.
Despite many measures to keep teenagers safe on the road, motor vehicle crashes are still one of the leading causes of teenage deaths. In fact, the crash rate per mile driven for 16–19-year-olds is four times as high as the crash rate per mile for drivers 20 and older.1 Statistics also show that drivers are at their highest risk at age 16.2
In an attempt to improve teenagers’ road safety, many states have implemented graduated driver licensing programs and other restrictions. The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety recommends this approach, in which a new driver receives a restricted license and graduates to an unrestricted license after time and experience. This approach often involves more parental supervision, and related laws impose other restrictions, such as curfews and limits on underage passengers. At least 47 states have adopted some form of graduated licensing, which the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety reports that most parents support.3
What is Parent-taught Driver Education?
This alternative to formal classes through the public school or a private driving school allows parents to instruct their teenagers in some or all portions of the required courses. Several states have formally approved such programs.
Does HSLDA Support Parent-taught Driver Education?
Yes. HSLDA believes that as in academic subjects, parents are well-equipped to teach their children how to drive. They are also the best judge of when their teenagers are mature and knowledgeable enough to be granted driving privileges, and because they are parents, also have the most motivation for ensuring their teenagers’ safety.
1. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (2011). Fatality Facts 2009: Teenagers, Retrieved from http://www.iihs.org/research/fatality_facts_2009/teenagers.html
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (2011). Traffic Safety Facts 2009. Retrieved from http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/Pubs/811402EE.pdf
2. Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (2011). Q&As: Teenagers—graduated driver licensing. Retrieved from http://www.iihs.org/research/qanda/gdl.html
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