Driver's Ed

Are there still public school systems that teach Driver’s Ed? I took it in high school in WV the mid-70s. The school district we now live in doesn’t offer it. The school district I took it in no longer offers it. I don’t know if it was considered frivolous extra or a liability risk.

My daughter took it in FL 6 years ago.

I took it as a summer course in Louisiana in the late 1980’s. I am pretty sure my brothers took in the 1990’s. It was very serious with 2 weeks of classroom instruction and 3 half day sessions of road instruction. I still consider it very valuable and I loved the gory films.

Louisiana had the lowest full drivers license age at the time at 15 (Motto: We grow them up faster than you do). We got high school credit plus an insurance break for our parents so it was a popular course and taken seriously.

When I was in high school there was the option to take it. You paid the same fees as you would if you went directly to the company, just they started and ended at school (and were after classes).

Well, I just looked up my old school, and yes, they still have driver’s ed. What’s more, they look like they have a better set-up than when I went there. In addition to the classroom and road time I had, they have a “Range Phase”:

The whole thing (classroom, range and road) is an 18 week semester long course, which includes 30 hours classroom and 6 hours behind the wheel (range/road). You need another 25 hours driving with your folks outside of class before you can get your license.

Sounds pretty cool, huh?

Back when I was there, if you got an A in both classroom and the driving test, you didn’t have to take the test at the DMV. I don’t know if that’s still the case, though.

Ow, wow! Check this out: Safe Driving Program

Students get to sit in a dolly for a low speed crash to emphasize seat belt safety, they wear vision distorting glasses designed to simulate the experience of driving drunk (no vomit on the steering column though :wink: ), see an airbag go off, and get talks on car maintenance from a mechanic and “hidden costs of driving” from a local insurance agent. What a great idea!

I took it in central VA about seven years ago. My school district has a two-part program. The first is classroom instruction, which lasts for one semester. Every tenth grader takes a semester of gym and a semester of drivers-ed. In class, you go over driving laws and things like proper hand placement on the steering wheel. The second part is an after school, behind the wheel program. It’s optional and I opted not to do it with the school because I had heard scary things about one of the instructors. You can also do the behind the wheel stuff with an outside company, but they expect you to have already had your classroom instruction. Either behind the wheel program will get you a license with successful completion. They both cost money and the non-school one is, of course, slightly more. I don’t believe it was significantly more expensive though.

So how expensive are these courses?

IIRC, when my older sisters took it in high school in the 1970s, it was about $25, and it was about $75 when I did in the late 1980s. My teen step-daughters are looking at $400+ through a private school, because their high school doesn’t even offer it.

They still offer it in schools around here. Evidence suggests that Driver’s Ed is a CASH COW for the schools though. When private driving schools kept popping up around town the district sent out all sorts of notes to parents warning about how inferior their programs are.

I personally loved the touted “observation time” the schools boasted with their program. Turns out “observation time” = sitting bored in the back seat waiting for your turn to drive.

Even though this is a slight tangent from the thread, I must say that in my opinion your average drivers ed courses are severly lacking in real life driving skills. We can never teach truly safe driving until we include things like skid control or highway speed evasive action. Presently, such things can only be learned at high performance driving schools, which of course are financially and geographically out of reach for most folks. Drivers ed needs to update to more real life situations and drop the needless crap such as parallel parking, which almost nobody does anymore anyway.

Way back when I took it, it was popular because you not only got an insurance break upon successful completion, but also were able to get a regular driver’s license at a slightly younger age. Like 16, I think. Without Driver’s Ed, I think you had to wait until you were 18. This was in West Texas. I also remember they’d always showed some short film featuring a horrific car crash on prom night caused by drunken carelessness and resulting in the death and disfigurement of many high-school students. Everyone at school always drove real safe for about a week afterward.

That’s odd. In my high-school course, they taught us skid control. I remember using what I learned one icy winter night when my car did skid out of control. I safely brought it back under control because of that course.

We discussed highway speed evasive action and skid control in the classroom portion at my school and practiced skid control in parking lots during the practical lessons. I’ve used the parallel parking skills I’ve learned more than either of the other two though. I drive more in cities than I do on interstates or in inclement weather/situations when I’m slamming on the brakes.

Our school district still offers it. My youngest, though, wanted to take it over the summer from a private company so that she could get her learner’s permit just as soon as she turned 15 (late summer birthday). The private program began with a mandatory seminar that focused heavily on the aftermath of traffic accidents. Speakers included a former high school athlete who was now a brain-damaged adult incapable of living independently, a father whose son was killed by a drunk driver, and two young adults who had caused accidents that took someone else’s life. The seminar ended with the vision goggle demonstration WhyNot referred to. One teen drove around a short course marked by cones in the school parking lot. Without the goggles, they did just fine; with them, the driver had a very tough time staying within the cones.

I wish that skid control practice was affordable. It would make me just a little less worried when they head out to school or friends’ houses during the winter.

We got the theory of skid control and “defensive driving” pounded into us in class. My dad took care of the practical, in those hours I needed to do outside of school. He wouldn’t let me get my license until I could put a car into a skin and take it back out - while driving on a frozen pond. Yeah, Dad’s an ice racer. Lucky me!

I really don’t see how you would teach skid control or highway speed evasion with the resources and insurance policies most schools have. I assume a highway speed evasion course needs to be very large, so you can actually get up to highway speed for a couple of minutes and stay there - where should students be doing this? And who’s going to insure a bunch of 15 year olds who are intentionally skidding cars?

As for parallel parking, I think you might be blindered by your local geography. I grew up near Chicago, and while I wanted to go to the city as a young person, the knowledge that I would have to parallel park kept me shackled for years (unless I could get someone else to drive). The city has a few strip malls and Targets with parking lots, but almost everything is on street, parallel parking (except for The Loop, which is $20 parking garages!). It wasn’t until I was 25 and met a guy who lived in the city that I was motivated enough to learn parallel parking so I could visit him, and I had to figure it out all by myself (to, I’m sure, the horror of the car bumpers to my front and rear!) I’m very good at it now, but it took a while. I still break out into a sweat when I have to parallel park on the LEFT, though! :eek:

They don’t offer in our school district, so we’ll have to pay for our kids to take it through a private school at well over $400.00 a pop.

It would be nice if they offered it through the school district. I took it in high school (very early 80s) and paid around $75.00 buck for it.