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Charbonneau: Senate Lawmakers Support Streamlining Driver Education Program

February 1, 2011

02/02/11 Senate lawmakers voted 44-5 today in support of steering Indiana’s driver education programs in a new direction, according to State Sen. Ed Charbonneau (R-Valparaiso). 

Senate Bill 127, authored by Charbonneau, consolidates Indiana’s driver education programs and regulations under one state agency now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

Currently, the state’s driver education programs and other related matters are managed by three separate state agencies, Charbonneau said. He said Indiana’s Department of Education (DOE) operates the program within school districts and sets curriculum standards while the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (CJI) oversees commercial driving schools. The Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) is currently tasked with setting up a waiver process for skills testing.

“This driver’s education system is more complicated than it should be,” Charbonneau said. “By streamlining services, we could help use taxpayer dollars more efficiently and more effectively train drivers.”

If passed, SB 127 would charge the BMV with updating curriculum for Hoosier students, aligning standards for instructors from school districts and commercial driving schools, and ensuring Hoosier drivers receive appropriate training for operating vehicles on the roads.

Charbonneau said the driver’s education curriculum in Indiana was last updated more than 30 years ago.

This legislation creates a seven-member driver’s education advisory board that would meet twice a year to advise the BMV on policy, procedure and best practice methods.  It would also remove the need for the BMV to administer written and driving tests of those who successfully complete public or commercial driving schools, although applicants would still be required to visit the BMV for vision screenings and licenses.

Indiana’s BMV could also contract with Ivy Tech Community College to expand opportunities for Hoosiers to take driver’s training instructor courses. Currently, Indiana State University is the only higher education institution offering such courses.

In addition, Hoosiers seeking a license would be required to complete 50 hours of supervised practice driving and submit the log to the bureau of motor vehicles – currently applicants are not required to submit their hours.

“This plan would help drive down the costs of driver’s education, make training more accessible to students and potential instructors and save state tax dollars,” Charbonneau said.