HOME-STUDY DRIVER EDUCATION
The main goal of driver education and training is to teach new drivers the knowledge, skills, and attitudes necessary for operating a motor vehicle safely and passing the written and behind-the-wheel driving tests required to obtain a driver license.
Although driver education in California has typically been taught in a classroom, Senate Bill 946 (Vasconcellos, 1999; California Vehicle Code §12814.8) required the department to complete a study comparing the knowledge levels and attitudes of teenagers who complete driver education in a classroom course with those of teenagers who complete a home-study course. The law required three types of home study to be compared to classroom: an interactive computer-based course, a paper-based workbook course, and a preexisting course utilizing computer or paper-based methods, or both. This report presents comparisons of the knowledge and skill levels and safe-driving attitudes of students completing these home-study courses with those of students taught in a classroom environment.
Computers in Driver Education Courses
The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association recognizes the existence of internet driver education courses and specified typical components of such courses, suggesting that there is growing acceptance of using home-study driver education courses as an alternative to classroom instruction.
Although complete driver education computer-based programs exist, none have been scientifically evaluated.
Prevalence of Home-Study Driver Education
Even though there have been no recent 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 teenage driver license applicants.
Although the California Department of Motor Vehicles (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.