A quick look at insurance/accident statistics from Indiana reveals that those who have taken driver's education courses are actually four times more likely to end up in an accident than those who learned from their parents--5% have accidents by age 18 vs. a bit above 1%. The article suggests that the problem is that driver's ed is for basic driving skills, not accident avoidance, but I'd suggest that there might be some other issues in play.
First of all, "Student Driver" signs create an artificial bubble around new drivers that is removed.....just as they start driving on their own. Bump. Also, student drivers are forced to completely obey the rules of the road--hence they never get the feel of careening along the Borman going into Chicago at the prevailing pace of 75mph with a semi on their bumper. (and then they do, alone--yikes!)
Probably more importantly, parents simply have more at stake in their own children's driving (their childrens' lives and limbs, of course), and they're not hamstrung by the school's rules. In other words, they simply have the motivation, and the means, to teach real world driving to their children.
A final correlation might simply be that many parents who send their children to driver's education classes simply neglect to do some instruction themselves. Oops, oops, and oops. Looks like it's time to take back drivers' education from the teachers' unions.
Update: apparently there is a bill in the Minnesota legislature to require drivers with learners' permits to post a sign stating "student driver" on their cars--and I'd have to argue it would make our problems worse.
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