Eight Decades of Safe Driving – Drivers’ Education Turns 80 This Week

antique_carDrivers’ education is celebrating its 80th birthday this week! The first in-car driver training course was taught at State College Area High School in Pennsylvania in 1934. Many things have changed since the early days of teaching teens how to drive, but the premise remains the same – stay safe, responsible, and alert, obey the laws, and keep your vehicle in tip-top shape.

By 1934, vehicles were becoming more mainstream and accidents were becoming more common; it was clear that proper education was necessary. For comparison sake, the first traffic fatality in the United States was recorded in New York City in September 1899, and the millionth traffic death was recorded in December 1951 (Peatman). In an effort to teach future drivers how to develop the skills necessary to drive safe, Professor Amos Neyhart organized the first high school driver training course using his own car, a 1929 Graham-Paige.

Many of the basic guidelines established by Professor Neyhart are still used in driver training programs today. But, with improvements in technology and increased regulations, drivers’ education has become much more robust. In Florida, there are three stages to the graduated driver licensing (GDL) law: the learner’s license, the intermediate license, and the full privilege license. A teenage first-time driver begins the process by completing a 4-hour Drug and Alcohol course and Learner’s Permit exam, available online from GDL Institute. Next, the student can obtain their Learner’s License from the Florida DHSMV office. An intermediate license may be awarded after one-year with a learner’s license, and a full privilege license is available once the driver turns 18. For more information on Florida’s graduated driver licensing program, visit the Florida DHSMV website.

Drivers’ education has come a long way since 1934. What is the most important lesson you learned from your driving training course?

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