Proof That Defensive Driving Works
Success of DTA's Program for Driver Improvement
The DTA Program for Driver Improvement course on which all of our defensive driving programs are based has been the subject of a number of studies since the 1970's. In some states, such as Florida, the course must be evaluated regularly in order for us to continue offering it to the public to dismiss points for a traffic ticket.
While most other driver improvement courses are not evaluated at all, ours has consistently been shown to reduce traffic crashes and / or violations among course participants. We take great pride in this fact, which has contributed to our success as one of the top traffic school providers in the nation for decades.
Early Attempts to Educate Drivers
Shortly after automobiles became commonplace in the United States, people began to realize the need for driver education and safety training. Many different types of training were developed to educate motorists, ranging from classroom lectures to the use of in-class driving simulators. These early programs, some of which appeared as long ago as the 1930's, were our country's first forays into the field of driver education.
By the 1960's, driver education had became a well established part of our educational framework, with mandatory driver ed a common requirement in many state school systems. The driver education, traffic school, and defensive driving programs of that time were popularly thought to be effective because people claimed they were effective. While few studies had been conducted on these courses, graduates of the programs appeared to experience a lower frequency of crashes and violations.
(The success of a driver improvement / traffic school program is measured by comparing the number of crashes and violations a driver committed before and after attending the course. Courses that show a sizeable reduction in the rate of recidivism [i.e. repeat offenses] for crashes and violations are considered successful.)
Failure of Early Defensive Driving Programs
When research studies were conducted on defensive driving programs in the 1960's, results soon indicated that course graduates were not the highly skilled, accident free drivers the general public supposed them to be. In fact, many studies suggested that the combination of classroom traffic safety lectures with a behind the wheel component provided negligible benefits.
One such study by New York University in 1969 concluded that "No clear proof has yet been produced showing that driver education, as presently constituted, has a significant favorable effect on driver performance..."
DTA's New Approach to Defensive Driving
The DeKalb Study, the first large-scale and truly scientific study of driver education in America, also concluded that drivers were not receiving the right type of training to help them understand how to avoid collisions.
After reviewing the results of the DeKalb Study and numerous other studies, Aetna / Driver Training Associates determined that a completely new approach to defensive driving was needed. Instead of the traditional methods of using scare tactics, reviewing the driver handbook, or practicing driving skills with a simulator, this new approach would focus primarily on changing the driver's attitude toward the driving task.
DTA's Program for Driver Improvement course was the first to teach drivers about how their three Attitude States (Parent, Adult, and Child) can influence their behavior behind the wheel. By learning to control their driving attitudes, drivers taught using the DTA program were able to avoid accidents and tickets in the future.
And for the first time ever, scientific studies began to show that driver improvement could have a positive impact on a driver's behavior. The road to effective traffic school had been reached!