HARRISBURG – Legislation sponsored by Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Delaware) that would revamp driver education conducted outside of public schools was the subject of a House Transportation Committee hearing today. House Bill 1244
would repeal the 69-year-old Private Driver Education or Training School Act from 1952 and task PennDOT with developing a new curriculum and to license private driver educational schools under the Pennsylvania Motor Vehicle Code.
“Like me, I am sure none of you have recently used a VCR or a pay phone recently nor thumbed through the pages of an encyclopedia to find a random fact,” said Quinn in his remarks before the committee. “These things have been rendered obsolete – just as is Pennsylvania’s Private Driver Education or Training School Act.”
Currently, the licensing of private driver education instructors and schools is the responsibility of the PA Department of Education, a vestige from the era of the inclusion of driver’s education in the typical public high school curriculum.
Quinn detailed the difficulties presented by this outdated law.
“It is nearly impossible for private driver education schools across the Commonwealth to hire or retain qualified and knowledgeable driving instructors to teach our future drivers,” said Quinn.
The certification process for new driving instructors typically takes eight to 12 months in Pennsylvania. The comparable process in New Jersey takes just several weeks.
“Imagine for a moment you are a recent retiree,” said Quinn. “You would like to supplement your income by helping young people learn how to safely navigate our roads. You have a clean driving record and spotless criminal history and child abuse clearances. But after finding out the process typically takes eight months and could be as long as a year and require multiple trips to Harrisburg, you say ‘why bother?’
“This law has not once been comprehensively revised to reflect the advancements in society and technology over the last seven decades.”
Gerald Murphy, executive director of Defensive Driving Academy Inc., located in Newtown Square, Delaware County, shared his experiences.
“Every year, I spend five figures to get candidates to respond to our help wanted placements,” said Murphy. “When we finally find that special someone who wants to teach teens to drive, who wants to mentor and cares, they give up because the process is too cumbersome.”
Representatives of other driving schools and from the Pennsylvania Department of Education and PennDOT also offered testimony.
“For our driving schools, those who teach and would like to teach at those schools, and most importantly, for young Pennsylvanians who need to learn how to safely and lawfully drive, this law must be updated,” said Quinn. “It’s time to bring our driver education system into the 21st century.”
Representative Chris Quinn
168th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Rene Morrow