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BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES
The high rate of driver fatalities among 15- to 18-year-olds has raised the question of whether
modifying current driver education practices could lead to safer novice drivers. In order to
investigate this possibility, the objectives of this project were to:
• Identify and review current driver education and training programs in use nationally;
• Review the literature related to best teaching methodologies for teenagers;
• Compare current driver education teaching practices with identified best practices;
• Examine the optimal sequencing for the presentation of safe driving skills in the
classroom and behind-the-wheel training; and
• Based on outcomes from previous tasks, assess whether a new approach to driver
education would be beneficial.
CURRENT STATE OF DRIVER EDUCATION
Representatives from 40 of the 51 jurisdictions (50 States and Washington, DC) responded to the
AAMVA and/or DETA surveys. The depth of information provided in these responses varied
across States, with some States providing very detailed information and others providing only
minimal answers. Information was supplemented as required through calls with the contact
listed on the survey and a review of State driver licensing Web sites and State driver manuals.
With respect to the key research questions of this study, it was determined that:
• A program would be categorized as “driver education” if the State termed the program
driver education and if the program included at least 8 hours of classroom instruction
and some behind-the-wheel (BTW) training with a licensed instructor.
• At the time of this survey, 23 States required driver education for all drivers under 18.
An additional 6 States required some sort of short pre-licensing course or drug and
alcohol awareness course for all drivers under 18.
• At the time of this survey, teens in 35 States could obtain an unrestricted license before
18 whether or not he/she took driver education. In 25 States, a teen who took driver
education could get an unrestricted license at a younger age than someone who did not
take driver education.
• At the time of this survey, at least 18 States offered some benefit (e.g., waiving practice
driving requirements, knowledge or road tests; younger licensure) if teens took driver
• The great majority of driver education programs required by the States included 30 hours
of classroom instruction, although the lowest number of required hours was 8 and the
highest number mandated was 56. Most programs included 6 hours of BTW training,
but some States required none while 1 required 20 hours BTW.
• At the time of this survey, 12 States indicated they developed specific curriculum guides
for their driver education programs to use. The programs in most of these States,
however, were not required to use the guides. A number of other States had core topics
that had to be covered or some other standards, but no requirements as to how the topics
should be covered or how the standards should be implemented.
BEST TEACHING PRACTICES FROM GENERAL EDUCATION
• Space learning over time. Classroom and laboratory research overwhelmingly support
the tenet that students remember more information when they have been exposed to the
information on at least two occasions.
• Interleave worked example solutions and problem-solving exercises. A worked example
solution involves showing students a step-by-step example of how to solve a problem.
After reviewing the worked example solution, the students are then given a similar
problem to solve on their own.
• Combine graphics with verbal descriptions, which enhances learning.
• Connect and integrate abstract and concrete representations of concepts. Connecting
different forms of representations helps a student master a concept and improves the
likelihood that the concept will be used in a variety of contexts.
• Use quizzing to promote learning. Taking quizzes and tests promotes learning and
reduces the rate of forgetting. This recommendation is actually composed of two subrecommendations. One part includes using pre-questions to activate prior knowledge and
focus student attention on new material to be presented, while the second part uses
quizzes to re-expose students to key content already covered.
• Help students allocate study time efficiently. Teachers should help students accurately
assess what they know and do not know in order to promote efficient and effective study
habits. This can help students break the “illusion of knowing” that can lead to students
inaccurately assessing their knowledge.
• Help students build explanations by asking and answering “deep” questions that require
explanations that appeal to causal mechanisms, planning, well-reasoned arguments, and
logic. The research evidence supporting this recommendation is very st
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