HB320 seeks to remove the drivers training requirement in Idaho for those under 17. When a student turns 14 1/2 they will be able to take the DMV written test and after passing, would get their permit and be able to learn how to drive with their parent. How does this affect the public?
1. Well, the main purpose of driver training is to get the student to a good enough skill level to safely drive on a public road, in an unmarked non-driver training vehicle with no passenger brake, with a parent who has had no formal training with teaching people how to drive - and to not injure or kill somebody. Many people believe that simply knowing how to drive means you can teach someone how to drive - it is actually much harder than it looks. Again, drivers training is not designed to replace the parent, but to simply get the student to a level where themselves, their parents, and other roadway users are not at risk. In 12 years of teaching I have heard many stories where students have hit cars, driven through garage doors, and hit mailboxes because the parent wanted to do pre-driver training practice. This bill would mean that at any time there will be thousands of students all over Idaho who are practicing driving for the first or second time in an unmarked vehicle - and you will never know it. At least now the public can spot a new driver in a drivers training car and keep their distance.
2. If the bill passes drivers training will still exist. It will be optional. While parent choice is a good thing, this bill would actually take away that choice and make the only option: you must teach your student yourself. Basically if drivers training is optional then 90% of parents will not sign up. Which means that up to 90% of drivers training schools will go out of business. So in a medium-sized town (or even larger), if there are no drivers training schools then your only choice will be to drive long distances to cities that still have them, or simply to teach your student yourself. The main reason for the bill is to address the lack of drivers training in rural areas. But since many driving schools will go out of business the non-rural urban areas will actually become like "rural" areas - because there will be no driving schools available at all. So in trying to help people in rural areas it will actually be taking away parents choice all over the state. So if you still wanted your student to take drivers training it would actually become much harder, if not impossible to enroll them in a school - because most of the schools would be out of business.
There are ways to fix drivers training. Ultra Safe has already proposed to the state legislators many options that would address the rural drivers training dilemma.