In 1997, parents and guardians of Texas teens were given the option to provide driver training to their children. Now, a Texas Transportation Institute report may have some parents thinking twice about doing training themselves.
A nationally-commissioned study shows Texas teens taught to drive by someone other than professional instructors are more likely to be involved in a serious or fatal crash. TTI also found that parent-taught drivers were more likely to be convicted of violations like speeding.
"They did OK when they were still being supervised by their parents, but once they were set free to drive by themselves, they had a fatal crash rate after about 18 months of about three times that of kids who had been through high school driver ed or commercial driver schools.," said Dave Willis with TTI.
The study shows that six months after the learners' permit period, Texas teens who are taught by their parents were involved in 50 percent more severe accidents.
The report adds Texas has the most lax laws in the nation when it comes to oversight and accountability for young drivers.
According to one driving school instructor, the benefits of going through a full program are big.
"They're given individual attention even though it's a group situation, and in my opinion, the students can learn from each other," said Bennie Schertz with Austin Driving School in Bryan. "In the classroom, I try to bring it out that this is part of life and the seriousness of the situation."