Drivers’ education is celebrating its 80th birthday this week. The first in-car course was taught at State College Area High School in Pennsylvania in 1934.
Back then, getting a license was a bit simpler. Currently in Michigan, it’s a little more complicated, with two different phases. You have to be 14 years and nine months old to take segment one of drivers’ education. You also have to qualify for a permit, and there are specific hours when you’re allowed to drive without a licensed driver. Complicated or not, instructors say it’s needed.
“Back in the day, when I first started teaching, you only had to have two hours of behind-the-wheel instruction and 12 hours of classroom,” Lake Superior Driving School owner Mark McNabb said. “I think it has really changed for the better. Graduated licensing is a good thing for the students; it takes it piece by piece and instructs the students how to drive safely.”
Students say classroom hours are helpful and informational, but the behind-the-wheel instruction really puts it all together for them.
“How to handle winter driving and what to do when you see animals in the road and stuff like that,” Gwinn High School sophomore Natasha Rzanca said. “We are getting instruction in the car at the same time we are getting it in the classroom; pretty cool.”
Michigan’s driving rules can be found online at michigan.gov/sos.