Online Driver Education Programs?

Driver Education is a key part of the development of young drivers, so it’s important that the advantages and disadvantages of online programs are made available to help parents choose an appropriate course for their teen.

We recently completed a report based on a study of Online Driver Education programs that was conducted for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.  While traditional classroom drivers ed courses remain the norm, the use of online courses has been growing across the country.

The study identified 15 states that had either approved or accepted one or more online courses inlieu of traditional, inclassroom instruction. While much of the curriculum was similar across programs, great variation was found in the manner in which course content was presented. While evaluating the overall safety impact of online driver education was beyond the scope of this study, the report did analyze strong and weak program characteristics in light of existing research and established standards for online learning in general.

The strongest online courses contained:
· interactive exercises
· personal feedback from instructors
· timers to prevent skipping over lessons
· integrated behind-the-wheel components
· parental involvement

The weaker programs were said to be very text heavy, and offered little feedback, allowed quick completion, and didn’t involve parents at all.

There was also considerable variation in the degree to which states exercised oversight of online driver education, with some only approving one centralized, government-affiliated program and others allowing online courses to proliferate virtually unregulated.

In addition to the full report, the Foundation also developed a fact sheet to help educate parents on this issue and highlight the program attributes to keep in mind when considering an online driver education course.