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J Safety Res. 2007;38(2):229-35. Epub 2007 Mar 28.

Driver education and graduated licensing in North America: past, present, and future.

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Traffic Injury Research Foundation, 171 Nepean Street, Suite 200, Ottawa, Ontario Canada, K2P 0B4.



A stated objective of driver education in North America is to produce safer drivers, typically defined as drivers less likely to crash. This paper examines the extent to which driver education has achieved this objective independently as well as the extent to which such programs can support the success of graduated licensing in reducing young driver crashes. In so doing, it discusses past experiences, recent developments, and the future direction of driver education and training in relation to graduated driver licensing.


Literature review and synthesis.


Driver education programs have yet to demonstrate consistent attainment of their safety objectives. Moreover, they have not been found to enhance the safety effectiveness of graduated licensing programs--indeed, some practices, for example, "time discounts" for driver education have actually had a detrimental effect on teen safety.


Despite its disappointing safety record to date, it is important not to abandon driver education. In particular, there are opportunities to improve driver education so that it achieves its safety objectives, and ensure that programs in the future complement graduated driver licensing and contribute to its overall safety benefits. Current and future efforts to improve driver education and better integrate it with graduated licensing programs, however, need to be rigorously evaluated to determine what does and does not work to reduce young driver crashes, and as importantly, to understand why this is the case.


Improved driver education integrated with graduated driver licensing has potential safety benefits.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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