NTSB Press Release

National Transportation Safety Board
Office of Public Affairs


September 21, 2005

Washington, DC -- Elements of driver education programs used throughout the United States need to be re-evaluated, the National Transportation Safety Board has found.

In a report issued today, the Safety Board determined that although various approaches to driver education are used in the United States and Europe no systematic evaluation has been conducted to determine which components are effective in teaching safe driving skills and consequently there is little guidance for developing appropriate curriculum or establishing requirements for novice driver education. Noting that automobile crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-20 year-olds, NTSB Acting Chairman Mark Rosenker said, "Young people are dying because nobody has ever seriously studied how best to provide appropriate and effective driver education. It's time to get serious about this issue."

The Board made recommendations to the U.S. Department of Education and NHTSA to review current driver education training programs and determine the instructional tools, training methods and curricula that are consistent with the identified best teaching methodologies and then implement those best practices into a model driver education training curriculum.

The Board also determined that the 56-year-old formula of 30 hours of classroom training followed by 6 hours of behind-the-wheel training was established arbitrarily and is probably inadequate to teach teenagers the skills necessary to drive safely on today's roadways. Further the Board concluded that driver training must take into account research results that show how teenagers learn and the behavioral environment in which teenagers typically function.  As a result the Board recommended that the U.S Department of Education and NHTSA work together to determine the optimum sequencing, in conjunction with graduated driver licensing qualifications, for educating teenagers on safe driving skills both in the classroom and behind the wheel.

The October 2003 forum examined the extent to which driver education is used, its effectiveness, and shortcomings, and what can be done to improve it. Participants in the forum included the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), State government representatives, safety and consumer associations, groups offering driver education, teachers, students, and researchers.

Information about the forum as well as the full report and proceedings are available on the Safety Board's website, www.ntsb.gov.

NTSB Office of Public Affairs: (202) 314-6100



The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is an independent federal agency charged with determining the probable cause
of transportation accidents, promoting transportation safety, and assisting victims of transportation accidents and their families.