HOME-STUDY DRIVER EDUCATION
Minnesota allow parents to home-school their children in driver education through several correspondence courses, and this method is explicitly deemed to be acceptable by the licensing agencies in these states. There is also evidence that other states have students trained through home-study driver education programs associated with private secondary schools, even if it is not explicitly stated in their laws. The California DMV is currently conducting a survey of all states to identify others that allow home- study driver education and training. Two past surveys of driver education practices in the United States conducted by other researchers found that less than 50% of the states even require driver education for new drivers (Jernigan, Stoke, & Alcee, 1992; Oates, 1986). Those that do require driver education typically only require it for teens under a certain age (usually 18) who are applying for a first-time license (Jernigan et al., 1992).
Although the California DMV has historically not considered home-study driver education to be legal for meeting the requirements for an instruction permit in California, there are now a myriad of different home-study driver education courses that claim to issue certificates that are acceptable in California because they function under the umbrella of a private secondary school. The completion certificates from these private secondary school-affiliated home-study driver education programs are required to be accepted by the California DMV as a result of a recent court ruling (Jackson v. Gourley, 2003). In addition, the curriculum of such programs is not regulated by the Department of Education due to recent changes to §51852 of the California Education Code (SB 2079, Burton, 2002). It should be noted that these recent changes to California law could not have affected the results of the current evaluation because they came after the data collection had ceased.
Research on Home-Study Driver Education
Only one contemporary study was found that even mentioned home-study driver education for teens (Preusser, Ferguson, Williams, Leaf, & Farmer, 1998). This study compared the ages at which teens obtained their instruction permits and first licenses in four contiguous states with different teen licensing laws (Delaware, Connecticut, New York, and New Jersey), as well as the relationship of teen licensure rates to a number of personal, social, and family-related variables. They found that teen licensure rates in Connecticut, which allows home-study driver education, were the most strongly related to personal and family variables such as GPA, living with both parents, and having at least one college-educated parent. They recommended that graduated licensing systems “favor” the Connecticut home-study option and the subsequent importance it places on family involvement in, and control of, their teen’s licensing (Preusser et al., 1998). Other traffic safety researchers have come to recognize the importance of parental involvement and supervision in the early stages of their children’s learning to drive, which may even increase the effectiveness of graduated licensing programs for reducing teen crash risk (Graham, 2002; Hartos, Eitel, Haynie, & Simons-Morton, 2000; Lonero & Clinton, 1996; McPherson, 2002; Robinson, 2001; Saunders, 1998; Simons- Morton, 2002; Simons-Morton & Hartos, 2003; Simons-Morton, Hartos, & Leaf, 2002; Simpson, 1996). Hence, to the extent that home-study driver education provides a resource for increased parental involvement in the learning-to-drive process of their children, it may become an important part of graduated licensing laws, possibly as the first course in driver education under the sort of multi-stage driver education program recommended by traffic safety researchers (Lonero & Clinton, 1996; Lonero et al., 1995;