Taking part in driver education may vary by state and student

In states that don’t have driver education requirements, more than one in three students got a license without any formal driver ed training, a study finds.

A representative sample of 1,770 ninth through 11th graders from across the country were asked about their participation in driver education programs. Among them, 78.8% had taken part in a formal driver ed course. A typical class, according to the study, consists of 30 hours of classroom training and six hours of behind the wheel instruction with a certified instructor.

Among students who were in a formal driver ed program, 86.7% of them had behind the wheel training. But in states where driver ed was not required, more than half had no behind the wheel instruction.

In states with no driver education requirements, the authors said, there may be discrepancies in training among racial and ethnic groups, between genders and among socioeconomic groups: 71% of Hispanic students in these states got a license with no formal driver ed training. Male students, black students and those with lower academic scores also took part less frequently in driver ed programs compared with their peers who lived in states that did require them.

The study was published recently in the journal Pediatrics.

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