Bill would require more training for driver's ed teachers

April 12, 2011 3:23:43 PM PDT
A pending bill in Springfield would require driver's education instructors to get additional training in Illinois.

The bill targets commercial driving instructors and is drawing some criticism.

Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White is among those opposing the bill.

Supporters say it is an effort to make the roads safer as young drivers begin getting behind the wheel.

Some teens opt for the taking driving classes outside of school due to scheduling conflicts and academic goals.

About thirty percent of Illinois teens get driving instruction from commercial schools. Now there is an effort to standardize training for driver's ed instructors.

Instructors at top driver schools get over one hundred hours of training. Their task: to teach teenagers how to be safe drivers.

Proposed state legislation would require more training for commercial driving instructors.

"We already send our instructors through 129 hours of training," said Rich Radi, CEO of Top Driver Driving School. "We think that's more than adequate."

Senate Bill 2135 adds three courses to the training of commercial driving instructors.

Suburban State Senator Susan Garrett (D-29th Dist.) proposed the bill. She says the bill is an effort to make the roads safer by helping to ensure that young drivers getting similar instruction not matter where they take classes.

"We did receive calls from concerned people who maybe had one child in a commercial driving school and another in a public school, and there seems to be a discrepancy," said Garrett.

Under current state rules, commercial driver instructors must pass a background check, a test with the secretary of state's office and take a 48-hour course.

"We just want to make sure that the instructors have the same type of training so we're coming from the same place, and that can only benefit our students," said Garrett.

Radi says additional training would be too costly for some schools.

"It would be very devastating to our industry and, as a consequence, could cost the state literally hundreds of millions of dollars," said Radi. "If the commercial driving industry was destroyed by such a bill, then students would have to go to public high schools."

Secretary of State Jesse White says the commercial driving schools are vital part of preparing young drivers for the road.

"We monitor them, and if we found out that there was something that needed to be improved upon, we would have moved in that direction," said White. "I don't quite understand the nature of the bill."

Garrett will present the bill Wednesday in the education committee. Testimony may begin as early as 8:30 a.m.

If it passes the committee, it would go to the senate floor.