DC Flunks Driving School

First you have to go to school, then you don’t. The DC government cannot decide what it wants from new drivers.

First, DC passed a regulation requiring new drivers to attend driving school in order to get a license. Then yesterday, the DC Department of Motor Vehicles announced it was indefinitely suspending the new rule. That was fast. It seems the DMV didn’t do a good job planning this out.

While requiring school, DC DMV didn’t consider where all these new students would go. There are only a few private driving schools in the District. Most people rely on friends or relatives to teach them to drive. Driving school can be expensive too, about $55 per hour. DMV’s new school could run students a thousand dollars or more. No provisions were made for those who can’t cough up that kind of coin for a class.

Statistically, driving schools don’t add anything to safety. Studies which followed drivers who took classroom programs, and compared them to drivers who didn’t, show that driving classes don’t make drivers any safer. The accident rates for both groups were identical.

The cost and hassle of D.C.’s new regulation would have meant far fewer young people would be able to get drivers licenses. But just having a license can help with other things.

Some job require a driver’s license. It’s also serves as a universal ID, to get you onto airplanes, into secure buildings, and on
sales or lease contracts. Not having a driver’s license can be a real hassle. That’s why DC flunked when it dreamed up a costly and
ineffective driving school. Glad someone came to their senses – for now.

Paul Zukerberg and Jonathan Halperin practice personal injury and auto accident law in Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia respectively.