A Right Turn For Driver’s Ed?

Arnav Srivastava ‘19
EE Senior Opinions Editor

Across the nation, finally turning the glorious 16-years-old comes with a dreaded opportunity of its own: Driver’s Education. In order for any highschooler of age to ultimately earn their driver’s license, they must first pass their state’s permit test, and then take a Driver’s Education course as well as gain on-road driving experience.

However, over time, high schoolers have began voicing their discontent with the Driver’s Education license obtaining process, and perhaps for a good reason too.

For one thing, the process of ensuring drivers’ knowledge seems a little illogical. To prove one’s proficiency if the Connecticut Driver’s Manual, one conventionally takes the CT Permit Test prior to Driver’s Ed, whereas the purpose of Driver’s Ed is to have students fully understand all information provided in the Driver’s’ Manual and teach students how to be a safe driver.

Although previously Driver’s Ed was offered before the written driver’s’ test, its current setup is a little strange, since drivers are essentially proving sufficient knowledge by earning their permit, making the class somewhat redundant for the overwhelming number of students who have earned their permit in advance.

As recent Driver’s Ed student William Stowell explains, “unfortunately, I notice plenty of unattentive students taking the Driver’s Education class just sitting around and not paying attention, yet they are still able to pass their driver’s license test with basic preliminary knowledge.” If students are learning nothing new that enhances their driving safety, then there is an unspoken call for the foundation of the Connecticut Driver’s Ed program to be revised.

At the same time, the ambitions of Driver’s Ed are crucial: the program seeks to influence drivers of safety in a more humane manner.

What a person can read in a manual is nowhere close to the emotional influence that can be conveyed in-person of matters such as the dangers of drunk driving. There is a substantial difference in just reading not to drive under the influence, compared to being shown how emotionally impactful accidents from drinking and driving can ruin lives.

Furthermore, Driver’s Ed often supplements content with more in-depth information to cultivate better informed and even safer drivers.

However, despite the noble intentions of the program, its most critical reviewers, the students who actually have to go through the process, don’t find some aspects of the program as valuable. Various anonymous radical Driver’s Ed students have reported the class’s curriculum to be “bloated” and occasionally “boring.” Although this course seeks to provides higher level of education, the unfortunate truth is that the numerous lessons of Driver’s Ed are already common knowledge amongst students and adding nothing new.

That’s not to say that Driver’s Ed is not needed. I fully advocate for a Driver’s Education program, but there is now an evident need to restructure the program and its standardized curriculum throughout Connecticut.

With the majority of students taking the course previously exposed to a variety of content presented through the Driver’s’ Manual or experience observing our automobile-dependent society, classes can at times become tedious.

As experienced driver and Driver’s Education student Hunter Kadish explains, “the key takeaways from Driver’s Ed are not learning obvious information such as how to properly enter your car or which lane to turn in, but influential lessons such as what to do in handling split-second high-risk scenarios.”

Perhaps this should be the notion to guide an improved Driver’s Ed program: to educate students in the unique potential dangers associated with driving and actions to take for the best outcome.

“I’ve already been told a bunch of times that driving under the influence is bad,” explains James Dubreuil, “and hearing it again in different ways is just not influential in any way or manner, or my response to the scenario.” However, curriculum should be condensed upon issues such as how to deal with road rage and unique emergencies such as how to get out of a drowning car. With a more focused Driver’s Education program, not only will information be more meaningful for the next generation of drivers, but will also be more interesting. Connecticut’s Driver’s Ed program truly fulfills its role when students are actually learning something new and influential to become a safer driver, compared to its current structure of presenting so much common knowledge in which students ultimately lose interest and forfeit the opportunity to absorb the diluted important information presented.

In all, it is evident that there is call for a restructuring for the Driver’s Ed program. The current teaching model is losing the attention of students and damaging their ability to learn how to be a safe driver.

It’s now time for the Connecticut Driver’s Education program to take a well-needed turn towards a more focused curriculum that will influentially captivate students’ interest rather than have them sit through a tenuous class that will falsely qualify their proficiency as a safe driver. With the safety of the next generation of drivers and road safety at stake, it is of utmost urgency to reform the crucial Driver’s Ed program.

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