North Carolina teenagers would no longer be required to take driver’s education under the Senate’s budget proposal.
That means they would no longer have to sit in class for 30 hours, or spend a few days behind the wheel with an instructor.
In its place, Republican senators want them to score at least 85 percent of the questions correctly on a written test (instead of the current 80 percent), and spend 85 hours driving with a parent or qualified adult (instead of 60) before getting a license.
Sen. Ralph Hise (R-Mitchell) added the budget provision earlier this month. Before the amendment was presented, the plan already ended funding for the program and shifted the responsibility to community colleges. Without state funding, parents could pay as much as $400.
Tony Moore, an instructor and president of the North Carolina Driving School, argues that less training will lead to more road accidents.
“Why do you want to play with people's lives? It could be your child, a person who hits your child, or you,” he said.
Moore added that parents aren't qualified to teach how to drive, and children are less likely to take direction from them.
Senate lawmakers say the millions of dollars they would save by eliminating funding for driver’s ed would go toward building and improving roads. They also point to North Carolina's graduated license program as a way to ensure young people meet strict driving requirements while they gain more on-the-road experience.
In the House's budget plan, lawmakers would continue to fund and require driver’s education. The two chambers will need to reach a compromise as they craft a final budget.