Greensboro, NC -- It costs North Carolinians $27 million a year in taxpayer money to put high school students through driver education programs. And AAA Carolinas says the curriculum all that money funds isn't doing a good enough job teaching teenagers how to drive.
Tom Crosby, the president of AAA Carolinas Foundation for Traffic Safety told a state legislative committee last week that more emphasis should be placed on the curriculum.
It's 62 pages long and comprehensively covers topics such as basic car control, controlling your emotions behind the wheel and handling emergencies.
It also includes details about how car colors can influence insurance rates, and how there's more to being a successful driver than just sitting behind a wheel.
But Crosby says it isn't good enough.
"Teaching proper behavior [and] emphasizing what to do on the road is a lot more important than figuring out the first think people pick when they go to buy a car is the color of it," he said.
He believes the curriculum is too broad and that instructors have too much leeway in what they teach.
But Joe Shrader, an East Carolina University professor who helped write the curriculum, says North Carolina is a national leader in driver safety -- and that other states look to the Tar Heel State to craft their driver education programs.
It's worth pointing out that AAA Carolinas offers its own driving school.
The state funds $27 million of taxpayer money each year to fund driver education in North Carolina high schools. Some school systems tack as much as $45 more that comes out of students' pockets to cover the courses, due to a decrease in state funding in recent years.
All together, it costs $289 per student to put them through driver ed. That all raises a question about whether taxpayers should be paying for kids to learn to drive.
The state Department of Public Instruction says the answer is an easy "yes," because we all share the road with those students. Learning to drive is also part of their educational experience.
An overwhelming majority of more than 45 commenters on WFMY News 2's Facebook page said they think funding driver education with taxpayer money is a good idea.
Diane Purcell wrote "[It's a] good use of my money! They definitely need as much instruction as they can get and if student drivers will be on our roads, I want them trained as much as possible."
According to a 2011 study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 22 states do not require any driver education courses.
WFMY News 2