Oregon Teens Avoiding the Dreaded Road Test by Taking Drivers Education

Auto AccidentThe Register-Guard reports that an increasing number of Oregon teenagers are avoiding taking the state driving test to get their license.  In a bid to prevent traffic accidents, the number one preventable cause of death for teenagers, the legislature has given teens a way out of the driving test: take a driver’s education course.

The new law, which has been in effect since January, allows applicants between the ages of 15 and 17 with a provisional Class C instruction permit to take a state certified class.  So long as they pass that class, and also have fifty hours of adult-supervised driving experience, they can get their license without taking the road test.  They are still required to take the written test though.  Also, passing that state certified class requires passing a driving test in class that is as difficult as or more difficult than the state road test.  The reason lawmakers passed this new law is because of a federal government study that shows teen drivers who receive formal training are less likely to crash than those trained by a parent.  Another benefit for the young drivers is that taking the class may decrease their (or their parents’) insurance premiums.

Oregon as a National Model for Preventing Teen Traffic Accidents

In 2012 the New York Times published a story about the effectiveness and ineffectiveness of driver’s education nationwide.  The general theme is that driver’s education is less available and less effective than it previously has been, and that its use may undercut important graduated license requirements.  But, the article pointed out that Oregon is the exception: Oregon’s program includes classroom training, substantial supervised driving instruction, parental involvement, a focus on risk assessment, and state trained and certified instructors.  A spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Transportation told the New York Times reporter that Oregon’s program leads to fewer citations, fewer crashes, and a reduction in suspensions.

Teen Drivers Are Extremely Likely to Be Involved in Auto Accidents

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in 2010, seven teens between ages 16 and 19 died every day from motor vehicle injuries.  About 2,700 teens were killed and 282,000 were treated in emergency departments for non-fatal injuries that year.  Those non-fatal injuries include some very serious injuries like permanent deformities, lost limbs, paralysis, and brain injury.  Mile for mile, drivers in that age group are three times as likely to be involved in a fatal crash as those aged 20 or over.

The CDC’s statistics also show that young male drivers are particularly at risk for accidents.  The motor vehicle death rate for male drivers and passengers aged 16 to 19 was almost twice that of female drivers in the same age group.  And, as one would suspect, those who are newly licensed are at the greatest risk of all.

Part of the problem is low seatbelt use rates amongst teen drivers.  The CDC reports that in 2011, only 54% of high school students reported that they always wear seatbelts when riding with someone else.  This may be part of the reason why driving education programs that involve a large amount of supervised driving are effective.  Of course, if the student wants to pass such a class, he or she will buckle up.  It could just become a habit to do so by the end of the class.  Seatbelt usage should not be learned for the first time as a teenager though, and should be modeled and enforced by parents from a young age.

If you or your teen has been injured in a car accident, contact an Oregon auto accident attorney to help file a claim immediately.

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