Objective: We sought evidence in the research literature to determine if (1) high school-aged persons who enroll in a driver education course have fewer motor vehicle-related crashes or violations, or are more likely to obtain a drivers license, than those who do not enroll in driver education courses, and (2) the availability of high school driver education courses is associated with lower community rates of motor vehicle crashes among young drivers.
Methods: To be included, a study must: (1) assess the effects of driver education courses or legislation for high school-aged persons; (2) present non-self-reported data for at least one of the following outcome measures: driver licensure rates, motor vehicle-related violations, or crashes; (3) include some form of no intervention comparison group; (4) adequately control for potentially confounding variables; (5) randomly assign participants to control or treatment groups, if a controlled trial.
Results: Nine studies met our inclusion criteria. Based on these studies, there is no convincing evidence that high school driver education reduces motor vehicle crash involvement rates for young drivers, either at the individual or community level. In fact, by providing an opportunity for early licensure, there is evidence that these courses are associated with higher crash involvement rates for young drivers.
Conclusions: Although few driver education curricula have been carefully evaluated, in the absence of evidence that driver education reduces crash involvement rates for young persons, schools and communities should consider other ways to reduce motor vehicle-related deaths in this population, such as graduated licensing.