Driver Education Courses In Jeopardy

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September 18, 2013 — Driver education school officials are telling state lawmakers their industry is dying as more teenagers bypass driver’s ed when getting their license.  As Indiana Public Broadcasting’s Brandon Smith reports, legislators seem reluctant to take action:

Before 2010, Indiana teens who took a driver education course could get their license when they were 16 years, one month old.  Those who didn’t take a driver’s ed course had to wait five additional months.  Lawmakers shrunk that gap in 2010 and required those with driver’s ed to wait until they were 16 years, six months old and those without driver’s ed to wait 90 more days.  Tom Zachary is the president of Drive Zone, an Indiana driver education company.  He says that change is part of a message the state is sending parents that says driver education isn’t important:

“Our rules that we operate by have been changed.  And now that we do not have a business model that overcomes those rules – I’m just telling you flat out – the industry is dying now.”

Zachary wants teens who don’t take driver’s ed to wait until they’re 17 to get their license.  But Greenwood Republican Senator Brent Waltz, who chairs the Driver Education Study Committee, says he doesn’t see a lot of momentum in the legislature for such a change:

“Generally, I have high confidence that capitalism will prevail, that businesses will find ways to succeed.  It may sometimes take a reinventing.”

As part of that reinvention, Waltz says the legislature might give driver education schools greater flexibility to teach defensive driving to adults.  For Indiana Public Broadcasting, I’m Brandon Smith.


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