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Virginia

February 3, 2003

Parent-taught Driver Education Moves Forward in Virginia

On Saturday, February 4, the Virginia House of Delegates passed a bill that allows parents to teach the behind-the-wheel portion of driver education. House Bill 2404 now moves on to the Virginia Senate.

HB 2404 passed with strong bi-partisan support. Twenty-two Democrats voted in favor of the bill. A handful of Republicans voted against it.

Currently, parents are allowed to teach the classroom portion of Driver's Education and up to 40 hours of the in-car portion. The remaining 10 hours in-car must be completed by a certified education, whether at a commercial driving school or the public school. Most public schools do not let home school students take their course. Some commercial schools charge as much as $200 for the behind-the-wheel training. Sometimes there are long waiting lists. Especially in rural areas, parents may need to drive hours to get to a commercial school.

On January 28, the bill passed unanimously out of a subcommittee. Late in the day it was presented to the full committee. Joe Guarino of Home Educators Association of Virginia and HSLDA's Scott Woodruff testified in support of the bill. The Department of Motor Vehicles and the Department of Education testified that they had no objection to the bill.

Before the full committee, one delegate seemed to believe parents were not qualified to do this. This is not a significant objection since the student would still be required to pass the DMV's driver test, and since the course itself would be approved by the Department of Education.

During debate on the bill, an amendment was added that would make parent-taught behind the wheel driver education available to all parents, not just homeschool parents.

HSLDA urges homeschooling parents to support this legislation because:

  • After Colorado permitted homeschool parents to teach their own children behind the wheel, traffic deaths dropped dramatically.

  • Commercial driver training is expensive and not available in many communities. There is sometimes a long waiting list for other courses.

  • Public schools often do not welcome homeschoolers to their programs.

  • Homeschool parents are already allowed to teach the classroom portion, and students would have more consistency in training if parents are allowed to teach the behind the wheel portion.

For more information on H.B. 2404 visit:
http://www.hslda.org/Legislation/State/va/2003/VAHB2404/default.asp