The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-37 [Anticipated]

Equitable Driving Training for All Youth

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Staff Responsibility: Richard A. Retting
Comments: In development
Fiscal Year: 2025

This project has been tentatively selected and a project statement (request for proposals) is expected to be available on this website. The problem statement below will be the starting point for a panel of experts to develop the project statement.


Equitable access to driver training for youth presents a significant challenge. Research has identified disparities in the quality, availability, and affordability of driver education across different communities, particularly impacting low-income and rural areas. Lack of equitable driver training contributes to varying levels of driving skill and knowledge among young drivers, potentially leading to increased risks on the road. There is a need to understand the root causes of these disparities and their impact on traffic safety. Investigating gaps in driver education could identify specific barriers young drivers face in accessing quality training, including socioeconomic factors, geographic limitations, and potential biases in current training programs. Findings could be used by state highway safety offices (SHSOs) to develop targeted strategies to address these disparities.


The objective of this research is to identify effective strategies and best practices for SHSOs to make driver education accessible to all students equitably, particularly through Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. This research aims to produce the following outcomes:

  • Understand barriers that prevent equitable access to driver education for all students.
  • Assess how current CTE programs do or do not integrate driver education and identify gaps or areas for improvement.
  • Formulate best practices for SHSOs in making driver education more accessible.
  • Provide policy recommendations for incorporating driver education into CTE curriculums uniformly across states, ensuring that these programs meet the necessary safety standards and are tailored to address the needs of diverse student populations.
  • Develop models that can be adapted and scaled by different states, considering their unique demographic and geographic contexts, to make driver education accessible through CTE.
  • Propose a framework for ongoing evaluation and improvement of driver education programs within CTE, ensuring they remain responsive to changing needs and advancements in driving safety.

By achieving these outcomes, the research will contribute significantly to the field of traffic safety, particularly in enhancing the quality and accessibility of driver education for all students, thereby fostering safer driving behaviors among young drivers. The research will need to account for varying policies across states, and any recommendations would need to be generalizable to different state practices.

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