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Driver Education Needed for All

Most states have a GDL law that teenagers can't get a license before 18 years of age if they don't take a driver education or driver training course (in South Carolina it's 17 years of age). Now a study is showing concern that teenage crashes at 18 are high because many got a license without taking a driver education or driver training course (Associated Press, “Fatal crashes up among 18-year-olds” by Lindsey Tanner).

We believe the majority would agree with David Strickland, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's administrator. He said the following at the 2011 American Driver & Traffic Safety Education Association Conference: “... Research indicates that immaturity and inexperience are two of the main contributing factors for the high teen driver crash rate.”

Be assured, even if it is agreed to raise the SC license age to 18 instead of 17, teenagers can get a restricted license earlier that will turn into a regular license later. What we are advocating will not hinder teenagers to drive legally until a later age. Instead, it would encourage more teenagers take a driver education or driver training course before getting a license!

Most European countries have seen the need to require several safety courses before granting licenses to teenagers. Instead, we are seeing teenagers getting licenses without any course at all. The results? Eleven teens die in car wrecks every day. Some say up to 5000 teenage deaths (Insurance Institute for Highway Safety) and vehicle crashes are the number one killer of teens. To be sure, driving constitutes the greatest hazard to survival through which American youth must pass to reach adulthood.

Parilman & Associates' fact sheet indicates that 23 percent of teenagers killed in 2005 were under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The 2009 Health Education Standards require alcohol and drug education for ALL students. Students taking a driver education or driver training class would be aware of the dangers of anyone driving who is under the influence. indicates that the risk of a crash for a new driver is much higher during the first year a teen drives, and some 400,000 teens are seriously injured yearly. It was mentioned that such crashes occur within the first 100-200 miles of travel. Does this not indicate that all teenagers ought to have a driver education or driver training course? Such a course will help to overcome immaturity and inexperience. Better drivers make highways safer! Legislation is sorely needed regarding teens taking a driver education or driver training course so we can “Make Safety First and Make Safety Last” in South Carolina.

Joe Sabbadino
Public Relations, SCDTSEA