“Will driver education ever be made mandatory?” asks a DriveSmartBC reader. He expressed the opinion that most of what drivers need to know could be taught in the high school classroom. While I would like to see mandatory training I don’t think that this could be done well in high schools because of the lack of an opportunity to actually drive under the supervision of a qualified instructor.
The current provincial school curriculum does make provision for driver training related studies from grade 8 onward in Health & Career Education and Career & Personal Planning. ICBC provides course content packages free of charge that the teachers can use in these programs if they choose to. The content in the packages is geared to have students anticipate the consequences of bad choices made while driving and to develop a positive attitude about sharing the road.
Speaking from my own point of view, I learned more in the hours spent behind the wheel with a qualified instructor sitting to my right and providing constant guidance than I did in the classroom. While some of the necessary knowledge could be learned in the classroom, few parents are prepared to provide on road training thoroughly and in proper progression. I suspect that even fewer public schools would be interested in offering this type of instruction.
This leaves us with private driver training schools. They are prepared to do the most comprehensive job of preparing a new driver, but at a price. Should it be mandatory? When ICBC changed the time reduction in the GLP for drivers who took training, enrollment immediately suffered. For the most part, we’re clearly not prepared to take training unless there is a tangible benefit. Perhaps it is time for BC to join Quebec and Saskatchewan in making driver training mandatory for new drivers.
- BC School Curriculum Documents
- ICBC Training Materials for Educators
- Parents of Teen Drivers – BCAA Web Site
Cst. Tim Schewe (Ret.) runs DriveSmartBC, a community web site about traffic safety in British Columbia. For 25 years he was an officer with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, including five years on general duty, 20 in traffic and 10 as a collision analyst responsible of conducting technical investigations of collisions. He retired from policing in 2006 but continues to be active in traffic safety through the DriveSmartBC web site, teaching seminars and contributing content to newspapers and web sites.