The conclusion couldn’t be any starker:
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.
Yes, it’s a bit of a political issue …
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.
But hey, there are statistics to back it up:
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.
Is driver’s ed. a menace to society? At least one politician asked the obvious question:
“Why do we even offer driver’s education?” asked Rep. Phil Hinkle, R-Indianapolis, after hearing the statistics.
Indeed, lots of government-run programs don’t produce the intended result. And the safety value of driver’s education has been challenged before. But is it really possible that sitting in a driver’s-ed. class makes you four times more dangerous?
Maybe the courses give young drivers false confidence that makes them more dangerous? Or maybe the instruction is really bad?
Or maybe there’s a selection bias at work here, whereby the drivers who take driver’s ed. (whether by choice or not) have different characteristics than the drivers who don’t.
Or maybe, more believably (to me at least), the statistics above obscure one salient fact: drivers who take a driver’s ed. course are allowed to drive at a younger age than drivers who haven’t taken a course.
There might be a lot of reasons to critique a driver’s-ed. program, but one of them should not be that you are shocked – shocked! – that turning more young drivers loose on the roads may result in more accidents.