In the United States, the on-road driving skills examination represents a “gateway” from the learner phase of driving to licensure and independent, unsupervised driving. While novices may acquire driving experience in a number of different ways (e.g., formal driver training classes, practicing with a parent or friend, or self-taught), all drivers must pass a skills examination before obtaining their driver license. Ideally, the skills examination should be designed to reliably and consistently identify those driver who pose a high safety risk and need to obtain more driving experience before they are licensed and allowed to drive independently.
According to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) guidelines, two applicants with the same skill level should receive the same road test scores. Potentially high safety risk drivers are being passed with the same score as potentially lower safety risk drivers. For example, Washington State and other states use non-cumulative scoring, or scoring a maximum deduction for a single driver error even if that error is repeated multiple times.
Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and AAMVA have called for evaluations of driver skills testing and scoring. The intent would be to identify pre-licensure drivers that present a potential higher safety risk and develop a risk profile for use by the novice and others (e.g., parents and driver instructors) to guide practice in both the pre- and post-licensure stages. States need testing and scoring guidance and best practices that identify novice drivers who pose high safety risks.
The objective of this research is to develop guidance and methods for driver skills examination and scoring that identifies high safety risk drivers, regardless of automobile technology, and applicable in all U.S. jurisdictions.
STATUS: Research underway.