HOME-STUDY DRIVER EDUCATION
Mayhew & Simpson, 1999, 2002; McKnight, 1984; NHTSA, 1994; Williams & Mayhew, 2003).
The Safety Value of Driver Education and Training
There is evidence that formal training through driver education and driver training increase the knowledge and skill levels of teens (but not necessarily their safe-driving attitudes), even if these knowledge and skill gains do not translate into lower crash risk (Kersey, 1976; Martinez, Martin, Levine, & Altman, 1993; Mayhew & Simpson, 1996; McKnight, Goldsmith, & Shinar, 1981; Ohio Department of Education, 1974; Page-Valin, Simpson, & Warren, 1977; Riley & McBride, 1975; Stock, Weaver, Ray, Brink, & Sadof, 1983).
Although driver education and training are commonly considered to have safety value for reducing teen crash and violation rates, the preponderance of research both in California and throughout the world does not support this view (Anderson et al., 2000; Mayhew & Simpson, 1996, 1999, 2002; NHTSA, 1994; Peck, 1985, 1996). Traffic safety researchers concede that driver education and training, even when well designed and rigorous, have not been shown to reliably reduce the crash rates of young drivers (e.g., Mayhew & Simpson, 1996, 2002; Peck, 1985, 1996). For example, in a comprehensive review of 30 studies on driver education, behind-the-wheel driver training, motorcycle training and education programs, and advanced training courses for novices, Mayhew and Simpson (1996) found that there is little evidence in the literature supporting the idea that driver education or driver training reduce violation or crash rates. That is, the majority of the evidence they reviewed did not indicate that students who completed formal training programs had fewer subsequent crashes and violations than did students who did not have such training. Their conclusions have been supported by the findings of four other independent reviews (Christie, 2001; Roberts, Kwan, & Cochrane Injuries Group Driver Education Reviewers, 2002; Vernick et al., 1999; Woolley, 2000). Past reviewers have consistently concluded that formal training leads to earlier and increased licensure for young drivers, which tends to cause increases in crashes and violations that outweigh any potential safety benefits gained through improvements in knowledge and skill (Christie, 2001; Mayhew & Simpson, 1996, 2002; Roberts et al., 2002; Vernick et al., 1999; Woolley, 2000).
Besides the fact that driver education and training lead to higher and earlier licensure rates, other explanations as to why driver education and training have failed to result in safety benefits are: (a) the courses fail to teach the knowledge and skills that are critical for safe driving in teens, (b) the students in the courses are not motivated to use the safety skills that they do learn, (c) completing the courses fosters overconfidence in students, (d) the courses fail to adequately address teenage lifestyle issues such as risk- taking , and (e) the courses are one-size-fits-all that do not tailor the safety content to individual student needs (Mayhew & Simpson, 2002).
Ideas for Improving Driver Education and Training
Just because driver education and training do not result in crash reductions does not necessarily mean they should be abandoned (Mayhew, 2003; Mayhew & Simpson, 1999). On the contrary, traffic safety researchers recommend that they be changed to