Driver's ed student enrollment down at Tennessee schools

Driving a Car
Posted at 5:01 PM, Dec 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-13 20:35:52-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Some Tennessee schools still offer driver’s ed, but others do not. Tennessee lawmakers asked for a study to be done to better understand how driver’s ed is handled across the state.

Apparently, less students are enrolling in driver education classes at school. In some cases, it's due to lack of funding, according to the state comptroller’s report.

Madeleine Collins believes driver's ed is important.

“I think it should be offered because it’s a big safety thing for drivers, and making the roads safe, and people to be educated, and the students — especially when you’re younger— you’re a little bit more reckless," Collins said.

She took classes at her school.

"Coming from Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, the drivers are a lot crazier here,” Collins said. “I had to get used to driving on the roads and the highways. (I am) definitely a lot more careful, and try to be cautious of my surroundings."

For students who don't have driver's ed at school, they go to places like Brentwood Driver Training.

"I thought it was great, we had a class we learned in, had a simulator that helped, and I had great training," Zach Smith said.

While parents get an insurance discount, there are costly barriers. The comptroller stated the average fees at private companies cost more than $460 for the course.

"I think for people who have trouble paying for it, it would be great to have it offered in schools," Smith said.

Currently, more than a million in tax revenue is distributed to school districts that still have the classes. In Rutherford County, they had thousands of students enrolled for the 2021-2022 school year, which was the most in the state.

Mackenzie Hutson thinks it's imperative because more than 20% of Tennessee traffic crashes each year involve teen drivers, according to the comptroller.

“It’s very much needed,” Hutson said. "And now there are ways to get around it: you just wait until you turn 18 and then you just memorize a couple of answers for the test, and then you’re ready to go on the road.”

Lawmakers will look at the study and how tax dollars are used in the next legislative session.

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