Indiana Lawmakers Concerned with Driver’s Ed Programs

August 24, 2010

Indiana lawmakers say the state’s driver education program isn’t working, citing a fractured system administered by three separate agencies and statistics that put the program’s usefulness in doubt.

Public affairs director Sarah Meyer of the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles told a group of state lawmakers last week that a study of current drivers under 18 showed those who took driver’s education had nearly four times the crashes that those who didn’t take the classes had.

Nearly 5 percent of the 51,000 teens who took driver’s education had one or more reported accidents, compared with 1 percent of the 71,932 drivers without formal driver training.

“Why do we even offer driver’s education?” asked Rep. Phil Hinkle, R-Indianapolis, after hearing the statistics.

Meyer noted that teens who take driver’s education can get their permit at a younger age and hold the permit at least six months longer than those who don’t. She said that means those youths have more time on the road in which they can rack up violations and accidents.

Sherry Deane of the AAA Hoosier Motor Club said the driver’s education system was created to teach basic skills, not reduce crashes, but urged an overhaul of a system that has changed little in 30 years.

Currently, the Department of Education, the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and the BMV all offer drivers’ education. Lawmakers called for consolidating the programs under one state agency and providing a uniform curriculum.

Sen. Greg Taylor, D-Indianapolis, said he doesn’t want to create more incentive in the law for students to take driver’s education until an overhaul is done showing the program is paying dividends.

“Obviously what we have is not working,” Taylor said.

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