Bring Back Driver’s Ed

Evan Oukrop

Driver’s Education class should return to the list of class options for high school students. The class does not necessarily need to be mandatory; although, most teens would probably take the class if it was offered. With school budget constraints and re-prioritization of what subjects to teach at the high school level, driver’s education was left on the chopping block years ago, but looking back, I’m not sure that was the right choice.

In our parents’ high school era, driver’s education was part of the curriculum. The class was designed to give students a solid foundation of the rules of the road, practice driving with an adult who is experienced in teaching proper driving techniques, videos and in-class conversations about the dangers and potential hazards when driving, and for some schools even the opportunity to practice driving in rooms with simulators to recreate and give practice handling real-life scenarios like kids running in front of your car or cars suddenly cutting you off.

For teenagers, learning to drive is a right of passage. It is a time when we gain more freedom and have to rely less on our parents to go to school, see our friends, go to work, and attend social gatherings.  Although learning to drive is a fun and exciting time, it is also a bit unnerving knowing that we are driving a 2,000 pound vehicle that can potentially harm others or ourselves. It is a big responsibility that should not be taken lightly.

“In 2018, almost 2,500 teens in the United States aged 13-19 were killed, and about 285,000 were treated in emergency departments for injuries suffered in motor vehicle crashes,” said an article about teen drivers from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) transportation and safety section titled “Teen Drivers: Get the Facts.”  

These statistics equate to seven teenagers aged 13-19 dying every day from car accidents that year. 

“Motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of death for U.S. teens,” the article added.

There are specific reasons why teenagers have more accidents, with one of the major reasons being inexperience. The more opportunity we have to learn and practice, the greater the likelihood we will not get in an accident. It is important to take driver’s education seriously, and it is important to reinforce the information about the rules of the road for new drivers. This is where an in-school driver’s education class could really add value. Learning from an online course and minimal hours with a paid instructor is not enough. Learning about driving can literally save thousands of teen lives. It is one of those skill sets that is a real-life practical application that all of us need to get from point A to B, especially in geographic areas where mass transit is not an easy and efficient mode of transportation.

The solution to bringing back driver’s education to our schools doesn’t have to be cost prohibitive with a fleet of cars and expensive insurance. With today’s technology, classroom driving simulators could be the more affordable alternative in conjunction with textbooks, lectures, and videos.

High School’s focus on lots of subject matter and all have their place and purpose, but classes with real life application, like driver’s education, should be at the top of the priority list, especially those classes that could mean the difference between life and death. Seven teenagers dying every day from car accidents is seven too many.