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Many U.S. Teens Hit the Road Without Driver's Ed: Survey
Date:2/15/2012

umbers were 88 and 53 percent for black students; 82 and 55 percent for students in schools with lots of poor kids; 84 and 59 percent for males; and 82 and 51 percent for kids who mostly received low to failing grades.

Research suggests that some of these groups, such as poor kids, Hispanics and blacks, are more likely to get into car accidents, Curry said.

So why are certain groups of kids less likely to take driver's education or get training on the road? Economics is one probable factor, Curry said. "If you have to pay hundreds of dollars for private driver's education, it might place a burden on your family and become unmanageable."

Jean Thatcher Shope, associate director of the University of Michigan's Transportation Research Institute, said that "the findings are not particularly useful or surprising."

For one, she said, it's not unexpected that more kids take driver's education in states that require it. However, "what may be surprising is that so many teens have had driver's education in states that do not require it," Shope said.

Overall, Shope pointed out, "the study does not tell us what makes young drivers safer, which is the important question."

There's "scant or little evidence that driver education results in safer drivers," although it does teach people about road rules and basic vehicle handling, she said. As for behind-the-wheel training, Shope said it's helpful, but supervised practice is more important.

More information

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has details about driver licensing systems in the United States.

SOURCES: Allison E. Curry, Ph.D., M.P.H., director of epidemiology and biostatistics, Center for Injury Research and Prevention, The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia; Jean Thatcher Shope, Ph.D., research professor and associate director, Transportation
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