Driver's Education Now Turbocharged

Driver's education is advantageous when looking to lower rates for car insurance. Today's driver's education is very different. Originally taught in schools in the 1950s- it was a result of the great highway building boom.

Originally driver's education was just to teach kids how to pass a driver's test, now there is a whole new generation of driver's education classes that stress safety and real life practice. The old classes that consisted mostly of safety videos from the 1970s that put students to sleep combined with a few lectures on drinking and driving are gone. In some of those classes students only spent six hours behind the wheel.

However states are reconsidering the education of teenage drivers. Urged by an increasing partnership of public school instructors and safety groups, new forms of driver's safety classes are coming into being. Some are experimenting with extended training. A pilot program combines initial driver's ed courses, six months behind the wheel under certain licensing restrictions and a second round of driver training.

The marketplace has also jumped in to rapidly fill the empty space. Safe Smart Women, a non-profit group in Silver Spring, MD.,has classes for women drivers in 12 cities. Florida-based New Driver Car Control Clinics located in 10 states has half-day seminars which situate teen drivers and one parent inside an auto while experts radio over directions on how to brake at the car's limit and veer while retaining control. Even the AARP has an 8-hour classroom refresher Driver Safety Program to teach the effects of aging on driving and how you can adjust your driving.

At the Skip Barber School's $600+, one-day program for teenagers, drivers speed through an obstacle course -- the champagne slalom -- as fast as they can while trying to balance a tennis ball in an oversized cup on the hood of the car, an exercise designed to demonstrate the relationship of braking,cornering and acceleration.

Other classes have a radical new approach to traditional driver's education: using hip young instructors to guide teens through hair-raising maneuvers on a track so they can survive the unexpected on the road. Students learn safe driving techniques and get plenty of behind-the-wheel training.

Drivers Education has a green side too- By training in hybrids, students complete thousands of miles of training but use less fuel and create fewer carbon emissions. More and more programs are using these vehicles with great success. High school students in Leon County , Florida's driver education programs are using hybrid vehicles to practice their skills behind the wheel. Six Toyota Prius' were bought by the Leon County Board of Commissioners for the programs; funded in part by traffic fines.

There is even fun driving class. Comedy Guys Entertainment combining a bunch of professional comedians and a defensive driving school. Approved by Texas Department of Public Safety, instruction is in-class work, done in fine restaurants with meals and refreshments included.

Meanwhile, many car insurance companies charge lower rates for teen drivers who have taken driver's education. That's one more reason it matters to make driver's education a significant part of a teen's coming of age.

by Marie Wakefield


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