Lawmakers Seek to End Mandatory Driver’s Ed in New Hampshire
Lawmakers Seek to End Mandatory Driver’s Ed in New Hampshire

By Alice Giordano

Fatal crashes, sexual assaults, and escalating costs are driving some states to end mandatory driver’s ed for teens.

Lawmakers say it seems only logical for parents to teach their children to drive instead of paying out big dollars for a stranger to do the job.

“If parents and families can homeschool their kids in academic subjects, they also can teach them how to drive,” New Hampshire State Rep. Michael Moffett told The Epoch Times. The Republican lawmaker is a primary sponsor of a House Bill in the New England state to end mandatory driver’s ed.

According to Moffett, it costs parents $1,000 to enroll their teenager in a mandatory driver’s ed program in New Hampshire.

If the bill passes, New Hampshire will join the growing ranks of states that already have put the responsibility of teaching kids how to drive in the hands of their parents.

Drivers under 18 years old currently are required to complete an approved driver ed program and provide written permission from a parent of guardian in order to apply for a driver’s license, according to the New Hampshire DMV website.

Driving schools and organizations like AAA are opposed to repealing mandatory driver’s ed for teens, pointing out that cars used in driver’s ed are equipped with passenger side brakes instructors can use and other safety mechanisms that family cars don’t have.

The American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association, one of the largest advocates of mandatory driver’s ed in the United States, did not respond to inquiries from The Epoch Times about mandatory driver’s ed, but advocating for government funding of mandatory driver’s ed is part of its lineup for its annual conference scheduled to take place in July.

There are currently eight states that have done away with mandatory driver’s ed.

In all states, teens still have to pass a road test and a written test with their local Department of Motor Vehicles in order to get the permit. In states without mandatory driver’s ed, teen drivers do not have to show up with a certificate from a drivers school in order to be eligible to sign up for the road test.

In Iowa, where lawmakers ended mandatory driver’s ed last year, Osceola House Republican Joel Fry said he found road training under driving school to be token at best.

“I can tell you the amount of time that I spent with that child in driver’s education far outweighs the amount of time I received when I went through driver’s education in the school system,” Fry said at the time he was lobbying for the bill’s passage.
Fry homeschools his children and also sees driver’s ed as a homeschooling right.

Fry’s bill followed the death of Bremen County Mayor Gregory Harter, also a driving instructor, who was killed when the 14-year-old he was teaching to drive was alleged to have crossed over a median, leaving the southbound lane and colliding with a car traveling northbound.

There have been several driver’s ed crashes across the United States.

One of the worst was in 2015, when two teenagers died after one of them drove through a blinking red traffic light and their driver’s ed car was struck by a tractor-trailer in Edenville, New York, a town about 60 miles northwest of Manhattan.

Another disturbing trend that has called the safety of driver’s ed into question is bad behavior of driver’s ed teachers.
Dozens of reports of sexual assaults of teenaged female student drivers by their driving instructors span several states including Maine, Delaware, Oregon, Virginia, Massachusetts and California.

Most of the allegations ended in the instructor’s conviction. In California, convicted driver’s ed teacher Tom Lam turned out to also be a registered sex offender. Lam, a certified driving instructor, was convicted of fondling more than 20 girls, ages 15 and 16, whose parents had paid him to teach their daughters to drive.

In 2019,  75-year-old Francis Lane was convicted of several counts of indecent assault and battery involving three female teens in Plymouth, Massachusetts. And just recently a driver’s ed teacher for the Middlesex Driving Academy in Winchester, Massachusetts, appeared in court on similar allegations.

State Rep. Tim Lang, another primary sponsor on the New Hampshire bill, told The Epoch Times he sees mandatory driver’s ed as illogical given the extraordinary amount of taxpayer money invested into permitting and licensing new drivers.

The state-mandated road test is conducted by a state police officer, trained to “weed out unsafe drivers.”

“We either trust our testing process or we don’t,” he said.

Lang also pointed out that in most states with mandatory driver’s ed, only a small percentage of the driving hours a teen is required to have to obtain a permit comes from a driving school. In New Hampshire he said, only 10 of the required 50 hours comes from private driving school. Still, parents still have to spend $1,000 in order to get what Lang called “a piece of paper.”

“Mandating families to pay that much money for something they do anyway—if not better, at least as well—is just not logical,” he said.

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