Wisconsin Assembly Passes Bill for Online Driver Education Courses


Lawmakers in Wisconsin have passed a bill that allows students of private driving schools to take their coursework online rather than in a traditional in-person setting. After the committee endorsed it on a bipartisan 13-0 vote the bill went to the Assembly, which passed the bill by voice vote. The measure now will go to the Senate.

The Transportation Department will allow private driving schools to offer online courses to students not wishing to attend the typical classroom-based classes. Still students need to pass the state-approved driver education exam, have 30 hours experience behind the wheel and pass a driving skills test to get their driver’s license.

Assembly Republican Keith Ripp of Lodi says that the online course will ensure that those attempting to cut corners will be caught since the students are still required to have 30 hours of hands-on driving experience and pass their driving skills test, WTAG.com says.

It’s up to the driving schools how they will make use of the online driving education option:

“The new legislation aims to provide an online resource that instructors at driving schools regulated by the Division of Motor Vehicles can choose to use as a tool or as part of their instruction”, Abigail Becker reporting for Madison for the Wisconsin State Journal says.

Assembly Democrat Lisa Subeck of Madison considers the new legislation beneficial and useful for anyone who wants to get their driver’s license but cannot do it due to driver-ed budget cuts in schools.

Driver ed programs at public schools and technical colleges already provide online driving coursework to students which is facilitated by the Department of the Public Instruction, Rob Combs, legislative liaison for the Division of Motor Vehicles, says.

The Journal Times voices concerns over the legislation in a piece titled: “Go slow with Online Driver’s Education”. Although the editorial board of the Journal Times agrees that the intent is to make driver education available in rural areas and to homeschooled students, the Board asserts:

“This is driving we’re talking about and the consequences of poor instruction can be high. Remember, too, these are young drivers who are going to be new to the road.”

The Board cited grim crash rate statistics:

“According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, teenage drivers have the highest crash rate of any age group. The foundation says about 963,000 drivers age 16-19 were involved in police-reported crashes in 2013, resulting in 2,865 deaths and 383,000 injuries.”

The Journal Times shares the view of private driving instructors who worry that online driving courses will tempt students to “zoom through lessons and not actually take the tests”. The Board urges lawmakers to evaluate and revisit online instruction to prevent such scenarios.