Teen crashes in Oregon tied to lack of driver education

In a 2018 study from ODOT, officials found that in 91% of crashes with a teen driver, the teen driver had not taken a drivers education course to get their license. KATU photo

The Oregon Department of Transportation says the data is shockingly clear; driver's education makes for safer drivers.

In a 2018 study from ODOT, officials found that in 91% of crashes with a teen driver, the teen driver had not taken a drivers education course to get their license.

"We always see better driving behavior," said Oregon DMV spokesman David House. "Fewer crashes, fewer citations, among teen drivers that go through drivers ed, and this lasts through adulthood."

The four-year study found that drivers ages 15 to 20 that took part in drivers education only factored in 9% of crashes in that age group during that span.

Beyond that, fatal crash statistics from 2017 were even more lopsided.

In a preliminary report of 2017 in Oregon, 51 people were killed by 44 drivers ages 15 to 20.

The state says that considering the data and statistics from 2013 to 2016, that would mean 40 or 41 of those drivers had not taken driver's ed.

"You know, honestly, it's devastating to think about it," said Lois Lents with Pacific Driver's Education.

Lents started the Gresham company with her husband. She said the difference between students who take driver's ed and those who don't starts in the classroom.

"What we're trying to do is create thinking drivers who know the right questions to ask themselves while they're driving and how to respond to what they're seeing on the road," said Lents.

Ashley Allinger is an incoming high school sophomore. She recently finished a 6-month program with Pacific Driver's Education to earn her license. She said the program made a difference.

"I'd say if you can do it, do it. Because even if you drive a lot, it's not the same as driving with somebody that isn't your parent."

The state does offer financial assistance towards driver's education for families that need it. Currently, less than half of all eligible students enroll in courses as a means of earning their license.

"We can say it's highly recommended, because we do see better outcomes," said House. "More experience, more training behind the wheel, ends up safer driving habits and practices on the road."




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