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Saturday, June 2, 2012

Are Driving Schools Worth It? Part Two

Are Driving Schools Worth It?


                The following table shows some of the results from around the world, of surveys and studies, on the purported value of Driver Education. As you can see, irrespective of country or type, Driver Education classes seem to be meaningless, except as a knowledge source.

SPC mentioned = Safe Performance Curriculum, a specially devised course.
Methodological Strengths/Limitations
Dreyer and Janke 1979
                2,057 students randomly assigned to two training conditions

                Those receiving range practice had fewer recorded crashes, but tests scores were no different

                Randomized control trial
                Intermediate measures
                No follow-up survey for exposure & behavioral measures
Ray et al. 1980
Stock et al. 1983
DeKalb County, Georgia
                Intensive, minimal, and no driver education groups
                About 6,000 students randomly assigned to each group

                Intensive training (SPC) drivers had better skills and fewer crashes during first 6 months, but not beyond
                Comprehensive randomized controlled trial
                Long follow-up – 6 years
                Formative evaluations and intermediate outcomes measures
Wynne-Jones and Hurst 1984
New Zealand
                788 students, 561 received course, 227 family/friend taught
                Random assignment

                No reduction in collisions for driver education group

                Adequate design
                Small control group
                No formative evaluation or intermediate outcomes
Gregersen 1994
                850 students received driver education course compared to controls
                Random assignment
                Driver education group significantly worse first year, significantly better second year

                Longer follow-up – 2 years
                Reasonable sample size

Masten and Chapman 2003; 2004
                1,300 students randomly assigned to one of four instructional settings

                Home-based methods better for 1 knowledge and attitude test, classroom better for DMV knowledge test

                Sample size adequate
                Well planned and controlled
                Psychometric measures only
Forsyth et al. 1995
United Kingdom
                Survey of 15,000 new drivers

                Longer time learning to drive associated with fewer crashes for males
            More driving education was associated with more crashes

                Several follow-ups over time
                Self-selection bias
           Self-reported data only

Howarth et al. 2000
                Self-report crash effects for in-car training effects
                Substantial differences, but not significant
                Sample size too small

McKenna et al. 2000
                Survey and crash records
                Random sampling for survey

                Driver education not associated with lower crashes or convictions

                Multi-variate statistical analysis used to control for confounding variables
                SES missing from control variables
Lonero et al.
                Survey and crash records
                Random sampling for survey
                Driver education not associated with lower crashes or convictions
                Multi-variate statistical analysis used to control for confounding variables
Wiggins 2005
British Columbia
                Cohort record study
                Case control study with survey and records
                New graduated license holders who took driver education had 26% more crashes
                Multi-variate statistical analysis used to control for confounding variables
Zhao et al. 2005
                Self-report survey of high school students

                Driver education associated with fewer crashes for learner license holders
                Multi-variate statistical analysis used to control for confounding variables
Pezoldt et al. (2007)
                Focus groups, surveys, and driver records
                Parent-taught teens less safe.
                Comprehensive approach with intermediate measures
Robertson and Zador 1978
27 U.S. States
                Modeling study of driver education and fatal crash rates

                No relation between proportion taking driver education and fatality rates
                Not program specific

Robertson 1980
                School boards with and without driver education

                For school boards without driver education, total licensing and crashes of 16- and 17-year-olds decreased by 10-15%
                Not enough data analysis presented

Potvin et al. 1988
                Mandatory driver education introduced in Québec for all (formerly just 16-17 year olds)

                Increased number of young driver crashes due to increased number of licensed females aged 16-17
                Large sample size
                Different timeframes for treatment and control groups
Levy 1990
47 States  
                Large-scale modeling study of effects of mandatory
driver education
                Small but significant beneficial effect on fatal crashes
                Not program specific

Carstensen 2002
                Mandatory driver education, new curriculum

                Reduced crashes

                Large sample size
                No control of confounding variables

It is especially interesting to note the 2 yellow highlighted areas....in one, a 26% INCREASE in crashes if they took driver education classes, in another, a 10-15% REDUCTION in crashes if there was NO driver education classes.

I leave the reader to draw his or her own conclusion.

Are Driving Schools Worth It? Part One

Are Driving Schools Worth It?


World-wide, we have this idea, called “face validity”, that it is obvious that more education for young, novice drivers, is a good thing. The problem is…..it isn’t! Study after study after study, from Sweden and Denmark, to England, Canada and the United States, have shown otherwise.

First, let’s examine what Driver Education / Training is, in its’ general context. By design, classroom training (the Driver Education portion) should give a student a better grasp of the laws governing roadway use, signs and markings used by their respective country, and a general idea of both the vehicle and how it handles. All of this is done in roughly 30 hours or so. Then, comes the “practical” side, the in-car training.

I can only speak of this, with authority, in terms of United States training; it tends to be much longer, and more detailed in other countries. Most states still use the “30-and-6” rule, where 30 hours of classroom and 6 hours of in-car are required/recommended. To see what your state uses for Graduated Driver Licensing rules, go to http://www.iihs.org/laws/graduatedlicensestatelaws.aspx?StateAbbr=AL and select your state from the drop-down menu. Some states also require a Driver Education course, either from a public school or a commercial driving school.

The major problem in ANY driver education course, whether it is public or commercially given, is the lack of motivation and inspiration to actually teach SAFE driving. Instead, the SKILL of driving is focused on, by both the student and the teacher, because the end-result desired is to pass the road test to become licensed. A SKILLFUL driver is NOT necessarily, a SAFE driver. It has been my sad experience, in teaching in 3 states and conducting seminars in many others, that the majority of driving schools fall under this category, whether meaning to or not.

Many of the instructors I have met have been either poorly trained, or hardly trained at all, and they tend to teach “Here’s How I Drive” lessons, without giving thought to WHY a certain technique should be used, WHEN braking is more harmful than good, HOW to safely negotiate curves and tight turns, etc. They simply check off on the lesson plan that the student was satisfactory at a certain task.

Similarly, classrooms have devolved into relying on reading a handbook, viewing a few videos/DVD’s, and then testing on what was read or seen. Instructor interaction (called “participative Lecture”) is almost non-existent, except for the occasional commentary of “here’s how I handle that situation”. Classrooms that I have visited tend to have, to save costs, textbooks that are 10 or more years old, and no solid agenda for a parent to view on exactly what their teen is going to learn, how it will be determined if learning occurred, or even what the testing will entail. A parent would, rightfully, be angered if a school teacher for, say, English or Math, treated the student’s education the same way. Speaking of which, even in the public school system, many of the “Driver Education” teachers are NOT licensed to be one, as ordained by their K-12 Teaching Certificate.

So, just what is being accomplished here? Is it all bad? Of course not. The classroom AND behind the wheel training are valuable for learning WHAT the rules are. But they do little, if anything, to teach WHY the rules are there, and WHY a driver should utilize safer driving practices. To make matters worse, almost everyone seems to think that they are a better driver than others, and such training is a waste of time. And yet, close to 40,000 people, 2-4,000 of which are teens, die every year on US roads.

The next section will show results from around the globe, many of which are taken from the LSEDE (Large-Scale Evaluation of Driver Education, 2010 Update) which can be downloaded in a pdf format from: https://sites.google.com/site/parentinstructor/my-forms (scroll down to LSEDElit). This link also has many other informational documents for those interested in driver safety, especially as it relates to teens.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Distracted Driving Redux

Much has been written about distracted driving, and considering a Massachusetts case now wending its way thru the courts (http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/31/justice/massachusetts-texting-trial/index.html?hpt=hp_t3), I thought I would present a series of pix from my Distracted Driving Seminar. The original program these are taken from is an interactive media program I use, so the links you see aren't clickable.

This is one of the best videos I have seen on the subject:

For more information on this, please visit: