Novice Driver Training and Education
The original objective of driver education (DE) is to produce safer teen drivers. However, evaluations of the traditional “30 hours classroom and 6 hours behind-the-wheel” DE model have failed to show it reduces crash rates. A likely reason for this finding is the lack of evidence-based, consistent, and high quality DE programming. To address this issue, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released Novice Teen Driver Education and Training Administrative Standards in 2009. The availability of this new resource has caused DE to receive renewed attention in the U.S.
These standards propose an improved, more consistent national DE system, as well as an evaluation framework informed by scientific methodological advancements that considers how features of adolescence may influence skill attainment, safety-related behaviors, and other factors most frequently associated with teen crashes.
Both the standards and the assessment program were developed in collaboration with leading members of the Driving School Association of the Americas, the American Driver & Traffic Safety Education Association, and Driver Education and Training Administrators (DETA).
Now is the time to assess your state’s novice teen driver education and training program to ensure it aligns with NHTSA’s new standards. NHTSA also offers resources to help you provide and evaluate DE programs that are integrated with Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL).
More research is also needed to describe common driving profiles for teens with developmental disabilities, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, and intellectual disabilities. Physicians and clinicians, whom parents may consult regarding driving decisions, do not have evidence-based guidelines to help families determine whether it is safe to let their teens learn to drive. Understanding how teens with these diagnoses may differ is important when considering how general DE should address their needs and how educational interventions should be tailored. For more information on the driving risks of teens with developmental disabilities, please read a commentary from our Young Driver research team published in Annals of Emergency Medicine.