HOME-STUDY DRIVER EDUCATION
uncontrollable delays in developing the home-study courses to be used in the evaluation, it was not possible to begin training until December 2001. In spite of this late start in training students, it was decided that it would still be possible to meet the 8,000 student requirement by the end of the data collection period. Therefore, the department did not submit a letter to the Legislature recommending termination of the project. Unfortunately, interest in the project turned out to be less than anticipated and it was not possible to obtain 8,000 subjects for the study by the end of the data collection period. Slightly fewer than 1,500 students enrolled in the study, but this was determined to be adequate to provide sufficient statistical power to detect meaningful differences between the four programs on the measures being compared (study exit exam average score and DMV written and drive test fail rates). It was therefore decided to complete the evaluation and submit the findings to the Legislature by means of this report.
Computers in Driver Education Courses
The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA), working with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), state driver licensing agencies, and driver education and training professionals throughout the country, developed several documents for the purpose of defining improved models of driver education and training. One of these documents recommended specifications for classroom instruction, using computer-based simulators and other instructional programs in conjunction with classroom courses, and for internet-based driver education courses (ADTSEA, 2000). Although they recommended that computer-based simulators, narrative instructional programs, and decision-making programs be used only to enhance, not to replace, a classroom course, they did endorse on-line internet courses as an acceptable alternative to classroom courses, as long as they are based upon the most current driver education curriculum available. In their specifications for internet driver education courses, they provide a list of the components of a typical internet course, such as using email for communication purposes, having on-line quiz and testing components, and presenting the course material through a variety of different mediums (e.g., videos, graphics, and links to web pages). The fact that this national driver education organization recognized the existence of internet courses and specified typical components of such courses suggests that there is growing acceptance of using home-study driver education courses as an alternative to classroom instruction. Their endorsement of using computer-based programs and simulators in the classroom also indicates a clear recognition that computer-based instruction can be effective at teaching some of the material deemed important for novice driver education.
The idea of using computers to help teach safe driving has been around since personal computers became widely available in the 1980s (Opfer, 1985). A number of stand- alone driving-related instructional computer programs, simulators, and interactive games have been created by public agencies, private companies, and educational institutions for purposes of teaching some of the material in a driver education course. For example, the Federal Highway Administration (FHA) created a CD-ROM program called “Moving Safely Across America: The Interactive Highway Safety Experience” that presented interactive simulations and testing to increase awareness of motoring