Driver's education

Driver's education or driver's ed is a formal class or program that prepares a new driver to obtain a learner's permit or driver's license. It may take place in a classroom, in a vehicle, online, or a combination of the above. Topics of instruction include traffic code or laws and vehicle operation. Typically, instruction will warn of dangerous conditions in driving such as road conditions, driver impairments, and hazardous weather. Instructional videos may also be shown, demonstrating proper driving strategies and the consequences for not observing the rules. The term driver's ed is one that is typically used in the United States, and other countries often have other terms for a driving test or examination.



Student drivers take turns practicing in a Ford Taurus instructional vehicle in Durham, North Carolina

Driver's education is intended to supplement the knowledge obtained from government-printed driving handbooks or manuals and prepares students for tests to obtain a driver's license or learner's permit. In-car instruction places a student in a vehicle with an instructor. A car fitted with dual controls, which has pedals or other controls on the passenger side, may be used. In the United States, Driver's Education is typically offered to students who are sixteen years old or will be by the end of the course. Each state has its own laws regarding the licensing of teenagers.


The oldest existing driving school is considered to be the British School of Motoring, founded in 1910 in Peckham, London, England.[1]

Online courses

Many driver's education courses are available online. In the United States it is up to the state's Department of Motor Vehicles, or equivalent, to accept any such programs as meeting their requirements. Some car insurance agencies offer discounts to those students who have completed a driver's education program. Online programs allow parents to administer the behind the wheel driving instruction.[2]

Obtaining a license

Successful completion of a driver education course is required by many state agencies before young drivers receive their driver license or learner's permit. In some states students taking driver's education have the opportunity to receive a waiver for successful course completion which allows them to receive a learner's permit or driver's license without taking some of the tests.

On track

Some car clubs, such as the Porsche Club of America and PBOC Motorsports Club, conduct driver's education programs focused on how to handle an automobile under high-speed driving conditions rather than on learning the rules of the road. These programs take place at road racing courses and include both classroom instruction and driving.

Students drive with an experienced instructor until they are "signed off". At this point they can continue practicing and improving their skills without an instructor. Driver's education programs involve multiple cars together on a racetrack, but they are not considered racing because they are not timed, winners are not declared, and drivers must wait to pass until the driver being passed gives permission with a hand signal.[citation needed] These programs require approved racing helmets and rollover protection for convertibles. Some require long-sleeved shirts and long pants for fire safety. However, they do not require full roll cages, five or six point seat belts, fire extinguishers, fire-resistant racing suits, or other safety features seen in racing and more.[citation needed]

Education in schools (by state)


Completion of a licensed Professional Driver's Education program is required of all Class D & M license applicants under the age of 18 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.[3] To be eligible for a driver education certificate, a student must complete the following program components:

  • Classroom instruction, consisting of a minimum of 30 hours for the purpose of educating and familiarizing students with Massachusetts motor vehicle law and of safe and proper operation of a motor vehicle
  • Motor vehicle on-road instruction, consisting of 18 hours of instruction in a driver training motor vehicle, including a minimum of 12 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction and six hours of observation while another student is taking behind-the-wheel instruction

A student must complete the full scope of driver education (both classroom instruction and motor vehicle on-road instruction) within two years from the first session in a driver education program. A student must have a valid learner’s permit and be 16 years of age before they may participate in motor vehicle on-road instruction.

Currently, classroom instruction covers The Massachusetts driver's license; The driver’s license privilege; motor vehicle safety; rules of the road; defensive driving and special situations; and vehicle ownership.

On-road instruction is designed to train students in the various controls and devices in the driver's compartment and how to apply their new driving knowledge to the road. Instructors are required at a minimum to teach how to start the engine, engage the gears, make left and right turns, turn the vehicle around, stop and start on hills and grades, back up, park, and drive in traffic and on the open highway.[4]


In Virginia, instructors are expected to bring students to the following understandings regarding drinking and driving:[5]

Driver Education (DE8)

The student will analyze and describe the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol and other drugs and their impact on a driver's awareness of risks and involvement in collisions. Key concepts include prescribed and over-the-counter medications; illegal or illicit drugs; effects of alcohol and other drugs on vision and space management; synergistic effects of drugs; and alcohol elimination factors.[6]

Driver Education (DE9)

The student will identify and analyze the legal, health, and economic consequences associated with alcohol and other drug use and driving. Key concepts/skills include positive and negative peer pressure; refusal skills; implied consent, zero tolerance, and use and lose laws; sdministrative license evocation, loss of license, ignition interlock, and other licensing restrictions; and court costs, insurance requirements, Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program referral,and other costs.[6]

Module Seven

There are eleven modules for driver education in Virginia (VDOE). Module Seven is called "Driver Performance: Personal Factors." In this Lesson, students develop an understanding of the effects of alcohol and other drugs, fatigue, and emotions on the driving task; assess the dangers of these factors; and develop strategies to make health-promoting decisions throughout their life.[7] Below are topics expected to be discussed in Module Seven:

  • Topic 1—Introduction to Alcohol – Saying No: The student will identify and analyze the legal, health, and economic consequences associated with alcohol use.
  • Topic 2—Nature of Alcohol-Related Crash Problems: The student will analyze statistical data and utilize critical thinking to evaluate the nature of impaired driving crash problems.
  • Topic 3—Physiological and Psychological Effects of Alcohol: The student will analyze and evaluate the physiological and psychological effects of alcohol.
  • Topic 4—Effects of Alcohol and Other Drugs on the Driving Task: The student will understand the effects of alcohol and other drugs on the driving task, and assess their impact on a driver’s awareness of risk and potential for involvement in a crash.[6]

Each Virginia module of driver education is divided and split into recommended time frames. The recommended time frame for instructors to spend on drinking and driving and the consequences of doing so is 170 minutes (2.83 hours). The module also asks for 60 minutes of parental involvement and instruction on this topic.[6]

See also


External links

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