December 2, 2022
Checks upon the safety of the nation’s motorists begin with the licensing process. Each state crafts its own requirements for driver’s education generally and for what a motorist must do before they will be granted licensure more specifically. When gaps in education occur, all road travelers are at a greater risk of suffering harm than they would otherwise be.
As a result, it is important for all road travelers to understand when – and where – motorists might be less equipped to operate their vehicles safety as a result of deficiencies in a particular state’s approach to “driver’s ed.” Although this knowledge may not allow a motorist to avoid traveling in a state that is less safe, it can empower them to be particularly conscious when operating their own vehicles. As an experienced car accident lawyer – including those who practice at Patterson Bray, PLLC – can confirm, accidents can often be avoided when motorists take care to drive defensively.
What Does Age Matter?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 8 million drivers – which equates to nearly four percent of U.S. motor vehicle operators – are under the age of 18. Although gaps in driver’s education can make motorists of any age particularly dangerous, deficiencies in driver-related learning have the potential to affect the nation’s youngest drivers most significantly as a group.
It is now widely understood that teenage drivers are the greatest risk of suffering a catastrophic accident of all motorist age groups. This risk is due, in no small part, to the fact that driver’s education requirements are not nearly as rigorous as they should be. Given that operating a motor vehicle unsafely is an undertaking that has the potential to cost people their lives, deficiencies in driver’s education need to be addressed for the benefit of particularly vulnerable younger drivers and travelers of all ages alike.
What Gaps Exist?
As every state sets its own requirements for driver’s education, it would take pages to explain where every individual’s approaches fall short. With that said, there are two primary areas where some states fall far below many others when it comes to giving drivers the information and experience they require to operate vehicles safely.
First, less than half of all states mandate that new drivers take a formal driver’s education program before they can become eligible for ordinary driving privileges. Some states only require that aspiring motorists pass a test before they can become licensed. In these jurisdictions, the current “state of driver’s education” is that – at least, for many drivers – there is none.
Second, a significant handful of states don’t require that new motorists submit to supervised driving for a period of time, provided that the new driver has participated in a driver’s education program. This is the opposite of the first concern but the potential consequences are the same. When new motorists don’t have to participate in graduated licensing requirements, they are ultimately more at risk of causing a serious collision than they otherwise would be.