HOME-STUDY DRIVER EDUCATION
safety. Similarly, Montana State University, in conjunction with the Montana Department of Transportation, distributed over 11,000 “Montana Rules” CD-ROM programs to middle and high schools in 2002. The program is an animated game that teaches teens about road safety and is meant to help prepare them to take the written knowledge test, not replace their driver education course (Jamie Cornish, personal communication, April 4, 2003). Other examples of stand-alone programs include those that teach about drinking and driving (Vermont’s Crash Site CD-ROM interactive drinking and driving program), hazard recognition and risk taking (the Automobile Association of America’s driver-Zed CD-ROM; Blank & McCord, 1998), pedestrian safety (the FHA’s Safer Journey CD-ROM), responsible driving (Sierra On-Line’s Driver’s Education ’99), and general driving laws and principles (the Go-Driver interactive CD-ROM, and the city of Fort Lauderdale’s Smooth Operator Program internet and CD-ROM components).
There is some research indicating that these types of programs can be effective at teaching specific driver-education relevant content and skills. For example, Fisher et al. (2002) found that teens completing a computer-based risk-awareness training program evidenced less-risky driving than did untrained teens on a driving simulator. However, these programs tend to be piecemeal, focusing on some, but not all, of the curriculum content that is required in a typical driver education course. Consistent with the recommendations by ADTSEA (2000), the limited and “gamey” nature of these programs makes them appropriate as supplements to a complete driver education course, rather than as comprehensive surrogates. Although more complete computer- based programs exist (e.g., Imaginatics’ Cyberdriver: Graduate to Safety, Driver Ed in a
Box by www.driveredinabox.com, www.gooddriverdvd.com, and the
the Rules First-Time
www.4newdrivers.com), none have been scientifically evaluated. The CD-ROM and internet courses evaluated in the current study were based on the same standardized curriculum used in the classroom and covered all of the same areas that were covered in the classroom course.
Prevalence of Home-Study Driver Education
This study is the first to evaluate home-study driver education courses for teens since Moukhwas and Simonnet (1975) evaluated programmed instruction booklets over 25 years ago and found them to be effective for self-instruction. The lack of research on non-classroom methods of driver education is surprising given that home-study learning has been part of formal education since 1833 in the form of correspondence courses (Sherow & Wedemeyer, 1990). Home-study programs have been shown to be successful and viewed positively in other areas besides novice driver education (Berube, 1995; Boyle, 1998; Fender, 2002). Even though there are no evaluations of the effectiveness of home-study driver education for novice drivers, home-study driver education in one form or another is not uncommon. For example, California, Connecticut, Florida, Minnesota, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Virginia currently accept some form of home-study driver education as meeting requirements for their teen license applicants. Connecticut allows parents to teach driver education and driver training to their children, and they may use a commercial home-study course for this purpose. Texas explicitly allows both parent-taught and commercially available home-study driver education and driver training courses. Virginia and