Bring Driver’s Ed back to schools

High school is meant to prepare students for college, careers, and, most importantly, the rest of their lives.  One huge aspect of life is introduced to Ohio teenagers as early as the age of 15, but is not addressed within school walls.  This life aspect is the art of driving.

In reality, it does not matter what career path students choose to embark upon after their years at McNicholas. Driving will be a part of essentially every student’s life, for the rest of their life.  As Rob Heise, Athletic Director and licensed driving instructor said, “All students are going to need it.”

The Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) of Ohio requires all residents under the age of 18 to complete and pass a driver’s education course, in addition to practice time in-car.  The Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) gives students the option of completing this course at a private certified training program like a traditional driving academy, online, or their own high school, if available.

According to a 2009 USA TODAY report, 95% of qualified public high school student drivers in the 1970s received drivers education at their high school. This number is now down to about 15%.

“This statistic shows a dramatic shift from high schools to separate driving academies teaching driver’s education,” according to Director of Curriculum Dan Rosenbaum, costs and insurance rates may have played a factor and would likely again in the future if it is ever tried to be introduced at McNicholas. Teachers would also have to be in agreement. Rosenbaum said it hasn’t been looked in to, but agreed to the convenience it would give to students if it was available at McNick.  He also noted that the program would need to benefit both the students and the school to be worth integrating back into the curriculum.

While taking driving classes at a private driving academy has its benefits and can be a rewarding experience, some students said they wished McNick offered the course. “I would rather take it at school because I would know people I take the class with. I’m always up for new experiences and meeting new people, but going somewhere new with no one you know is really nerve-racking,” sophomore Miranda Taylor said. Taylor took her driving classes at Clermont’s Best Driving Academy.

Sophomore Jacob Reuss completed his driver’s education at First Gear Driving Academy.  He said that he enjoyed his experience and is in favor of private driving schools. “I would rather go to First Gear than take the classes at school for a few reasons. Most importantly, the atmosphere of a school setting would just turn driving into another class the students have to take and it would not be as personal for the student. I feel like I benefited as both a driver and a person from my time at First Gear,” Reuss said.

Rosenbaum said that as a parent he trusts private driving academies but would also enjoy the beneficial factor of having a familiar McNick teacher administer the course to students.

While students have differing opinions on where they would prefer to complete their driver’s education, most high schools in the area don’t currently offer the course. Ohio requires 24 hours of classroom education and 8 hours of in-car training, as of now, most of which takes place outside the high school setting.

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