Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

People complain about “cheap” driver’s ed costs

Posted by lapearce on June 4, 2009

I’ve spoken to a few people who learned how to drive in Europe and Japan. One such man from Norway explained a driver’s education system that puts ours to shame. the process, first and foremost, takes a lot longer and includes a lot more instruction. Before receiving his license he had to prove that he could drive in snow, ice and rain, drive a manual transmission, drive on the highway and perform basic maintenance tasks. And people complain here about needing to know how to parallel park!

The cost of getting a license in Norway: over $2,000 USD.

And Norway is not the exception of the rule. Countries across Europe require similar skills at similar costs. In Japan there are driving schools set up all over the country where teens can learn in a safe place how to control a car in a number of different situations on closed courses. After they receive their license they are branded as new drivers with a sticker. If you crash into a new driver it is automatically your fault, because you are a professional, and they are just a novice. What a different mindset than we have here in America.

Because of the difference in our requirements, and the mindset Americans have toward driving (we feel entitled to the right to drive, not privileged to receive the responsibility like in so many other countries) I was not surprised to read this article from Massachusetts where families complain about paying $800 for driver’s training, over a thousand less than many European countries.

The costs of getting a license in Massachusetts were increased because the driving training requirements have increased. Teens need 12 hours of behind-the-wheel instruction compared to just six hours prior to 2007. Doubling the time with an instructor has, predictably, doubled the average costs of licensing.

Example of Japanese novice driver sticker

Example of Japanese novice driver sticker

Despite a 1:1 ratio of hours-to-costs in Mass. people are still complaining about these “exhortation” costs. “It’s ridiculous,” said Meaghan Huleatt, 17, a recent driver’s education graduate who will be a senior at Barnstable High School in the fall. “They’re asking for way too much money.”

Tom Furino, who started the non-profit M.V. Drive for Life after losing his son, David, in 2005, is partially responsible for the increase in driver’s training requirements. He also feels, however, that the added costs can be offset by 5 percent surcharge on moving violations that would be used to fund high school driver’s training courses. He believes this could save families at least $100. However, in a time of budget cuts, he is skeptical that his plan will make it through legislation.

Even with the “high” costs of licenses in Mass, people are still getting them. They still want to drive.

Thomas Vitanen, program director at Grand Prix Driving School points out that the added education can pay for itself in insurance savings, which are typically around 10 percent a year. I’d also like to point out that if the increased education saves your child from one crash, it paid for itself in the savings of the insurance deductive, let alone the increase you’d see on your insurance.

However, the increased driver’s education goes a step further than just saving people money on their insurance: it will potentially save lives. I am still left speechless at parents who won’t pay for supplemental driver’s education because it is “too expensive” what is the value of your child’s life? If it saves a life, isn’t the extra cost worth it?

The bottom line is that we need better, more comprehensive driver’s education in America, and that it will come at an extra cost. Driving is not a right. It isn’t something that someone deserves or should just get just because they turn 16. It is a responsibility. It is a privilege. People should be prepared for it. Yes, I understand that increased costs are difficult for a lot of families, and that some people will not be able to afford it. I understand that our pathetic public transportation system would make it difficult for these families to find an alternate solution. I believe that these issues are the reason why America is so far beyond Europe and Japan in driver’s training. Those places have great public transportation, and in Japan especially, driving is not seen as a right.

For the time being, I beg the people of Mass. to realize the benefit to the increased requirements. They pay off and they save lives.

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One Response to “People complain about “cheap” driver’s ed costs”

  1. […] More education comes at a cost. I feel that is one of the biggest reasons why more education isn’t required in the United States, Australia or many other countries where the love for the road and the mindset that driving is a right and not a privilage, overshadows the want to create good, safe drivers. Here in the United States, where the best states require less than half of the drive time Australia requires for permitted drivers, parents complain that driver’s education is too costly. […]

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