A new study finds young people who don’t take driver’s education courses are more likely to be involved in collisions and they’re much more likely to get ticketed and be found guilty of traffic law violations. Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman for AAA-Iowa, says vehicle crashes remain the leading cause of death for teenagers, both in Iowa and nationwide.

“Children under the age of 18 who do not participate in a driver’s education class are more likely, not only to be in crashes, but to receive convictions,” Weinholzer says. “We’ve got 30 states across the country that require driver’s education in some form and 20 states that do not.” Iowa is among the states where driver’s ed is required.

Some school districts in the state offer it as a regular course, while other districts require students to use a private, professional driver’s training company. “Obviously, we’re very pleased that Iowa has driver’s education and it’s required for all people under the age of 18,” Weinholzer says. “We certainly can always improve the system by enhancing the graduated driver’s license system, adding things like a parent education seminar, those sorts of things.”

The motor club’s report found students who took driver’s education courses saw a reduction in crashes by 4.3 percent and a drop in convictions by nearly 40 percent. It also found that teens who completed driver’s ed scored higher on the driving exam and demonstrated better knowledge of the rules of the road over their peers who had no formal training.