A local neurosurgeon is lobbying to make driver’s education mandatory in the state of Pennsylvania, a move he says will reduce the number of auto crashes, especially those involving inexperienced young drivers.
Fred Simeone, a retired neurosurgeon who spent four decades in the medical field, is lobbying the state to require mandatory driver’s ed. It’s a move that he feels could instill basic skills in young drivers, which might be enough to save their lives or prevent serious injuries on the road. Reflecting back upon the catastrophic injuries sustained in car accidents (many of which were teenage patients), Mr. Simone stated, “These kids were in car accidents with pretty much all the same problems: tailgating, failure to adjust their mirrors, lane changing. That’s stuff they might have been able to avoid if they had known better.”
A teenager wishing to obtain a license in the state of Pennsylvania must complete a medical evaluation, the signature of a parent or guardian, and apply for a learners’ permit, which involves establishing identity and residency as well as an eyesight and written skills test. The driver must then complete the requirements of the initial permit. The driver must complete 65 hours of adult-supervised “skill building,” which must include no less than ten hours of nighttime driving, five hours of bad weather driving, and a six-month waiting period. The driver is then eligible to take the test for a Pennsylvania driver’s license. Teen drivers are issued a junior license.
A junior license may be changed to a regular driver’s license when the driver has held a junior diver’s license for one year, has not been convicted of any violation of the vehicle code, has not been in an accident for which the driver is partially or fully responsible, and has completed a classroom and behind-the-wheel training course approved by the PA Department of Education. However, a junior driver’s license automatically converts to a regular driver’s license when the license holder turns 18. Therefore, a driver can obtain a full driver’s license without ever taking a driver’s ed course.
Research from the University of Nebraska found that young drivers who have not participated in a driver’s training course were 75% more likely to get a traffic ticket, 16% more likely to be involved in an accident, and 24% more likely to be killed behind the wheel when compared to their counterparts who did complete such a course.
Many say that mandatory driver’s ed would place too high of a financial burden on Pennsylvania school districts. Mr. Simeone is meeting with Pennsylvania Senator Tom Killion, who represents citizens in Chester and Delaware counties, to state his case for mandatory driver training. However, Senator Killion’s team stated, “We’re just at this point listening to what he has to say and trying to see if there’s any issues with our driver’s education system. We’re not taking any position at this time.”