Car accidents are the number one killer of teens in the U.S.
Car accidents kill more teenagers in the U.S. than drugs, crime or war combined. About 6,000 teens die a year, the equivalent of a Boeing 727 loaded with teenagers crashing every six weeks with no survivors. In addition to those killed, another 400,000 teens are injured in car accidents every year. That’s nearly 1200 teenagers killed or injured every day … nearly 100 teenagers every hour.
When it comes to the number of teen deaths from car accidents, the United States is ranked at the bottom of the list when compared to other developed countries, who have far more stringent new driver training requirements and laws in place.
Formal driver training is mandated in most states in the U.S.
In over two thirds of states in the U.S., teens are required to complete formal driver training as a prerequisite for licensing. And many insurance companies offer discounts on auto insurance premiums for teen drivers who have completed formal training.
Traditional Driver’s Ed is outdated, ineffective and available in less than 30% of high schools.
High School Driver’s Ed hasn’t changed in the 65 years since it was first introduced as a core curriculum. Back then, a teenager who wanted to get a driver’s license in most states was required to complete a “30 + 6” driver education course: 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction. This “30 + 6” curriculum may sound familiar; you probably went through something like it in high school too. It’s the same standard that’s in place today across much of the country. The problem is, it’s not effective at reducing the incidence of teen accidents.
“An honest, careful analysis of traditional driver education can lead to only one conclusion: It doesn’t teach driving, let alone good driving. Its philosophy, psychology, content and method are wrong. The damage it causes is crippling and permanent.” (Autoweek, 2006)
Over the past 25 years, many high school driver education programs have been eliminated due to budget pressures; in fact, driver education is available in less than 30% of U.S. high schools today. As a result, parents increasingly turn to commercial driving schools to provide this state-mandated training for their children.
The commercial driving school industry is not delivering a quality training experience that reduces teen accidents
The commercial driving school industry is largely made up of mom-and-pop and regional operators, many of whom provide a less-than-optimal experience. Most commercial driving schools are focused on helping a teen pass their driving test, not building lifelong safe driving behaviors.
There is clearly a need and an opportunity to reinvent driver education in America.
Too many teenagers in this country are killed or injured in car accidents every year. A mandate exists at a national and state level to ensure new teen drivers complete formal driver education, but the driver training options available today through high schools and commercial driving schools are not effective at reducing teen accident risks. There is a need and an opportunity to reinvent driver education to make it more engaging and more effective at helping teens become life-long safe drivers.