Photo: Cover of Florida Official Driver’s Handbook (Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles)
In 2015 Florida introduced a new driver’s test in an effort to improve the standards for driving safely on state roads. However, the new test proved to be much more difficult than the old test and failure rates increased dramatically. The expressed difficulty of the new test prompted a public discussion; the internet was quickly populated with news stories and blog posts addressing the issue. The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (DHSMV) quickly took heed and made some important changes.
Test questions were screened for reliability, and the new and improved 2015 driver’s handbook was released this January. The new handbook is more than a handbook—it is a study guide—the content is engaging and attempts to reach visual learners with graphs, diagrams, and vivid images. The language in the manual is also clear and simplified to reach potential drivers of most ages and education levels. To increase drivers’ ability to pass the official test, a pre-test is available at the end of the book, allowing students to quiz themselves.
The manual also addresses road-sharing rules for motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The accessibility and clarity of the new handbook is a positive development; the test should be challenging and new drivers should be well prepared to meet its challenges in order to be safe and effective on the road. In a January 22nd of 2016 press release, DHSMV Executive Director Terry L. Rhodes emphasized the importance of a thorough and effective driver education program: “Operating a motor vehicle is one of the most dangerous activities a person can undertake and driver education can save lives.”