Proposed grant could make Driver’s Ed. more affordable in Wisconsin
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Wisconsin lawmakers want to improve driving safety with a proposal to make driver’s education more affordable and accessible for future drivers.
A new bill to create a grant program for future drivers is up for debate at the Assembly.
The proposal puts $6 million into the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s pocket to make the class free for students who qualify for free and reduced lunch.
Before students can get their license when they turn 16, they have to pay $400 to $600 for in-class and/or behind the wheel lessons.
The money is a barrier for some students like 15-year-old Annie Dong of Madison.
”I don’t have that kind of money,” Dong said.
She is one of the few students who applied and qualified for a free driver’s education course through Madison School and Community Recreation.
”It’s going great,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot. I’ve never hit a curb yet.”
She said her parents didn’t want to pay the fees and didn’t love driving with her so she was motivated to apply for the course.
”My dad would scold me when he would try to teach me,” she said. “He would be like, ‘Okay well if you don’t want to learn you could pay someone to do it.’ And I was like, ‘Okay, I’m going to prove you wrong.’……. And I got in the program and I proved him wrong.”
According to MSCR’s Director of Driver Education Christine Bergan, some students who cannot afford the class wait until they’re 18-years-old, skip driver’s ed., and take the test before hitting the road.
Wisconsin Assembly Representative Bob Donovan is co-sponsoring the bill proposal along with Democratic lawmakers.
”A lot of people will say that they’re concerned really across the state of Wisconsin, with the level of driving, they see a lot of individuals driving inappropriately,” (R) Rep. Donovan said. ”There are a lot of shortcuts occurring and lack of respect for other drivers on the road, so it’s our hope that this will help make a difference.”
He said it’s the first step to making Wisconsin roads safer.
Dong’s Driver Education Instructor Andrew Graham said making the course more affordable for more students could be helpful.
”We’re all on the roadway,” he said. “I think there are a lot of students that maybe don’t have the opportunity to have that knowledge base to be drivers, and this maybe allows them to have that chance and the opportunity.”
Bergan said the cost of running the program also increased with insurance and gas prices since state funding was pulled in 2003, so any more funding could help.
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