LETTER: Driver's education cost is a bargain

Mitch Bradford is correct in his letter to the Citizen (Wednesday, July 6) that it's wrong to eliminate driver education from any school curriculum in these times, especially since students can become highly distracted while driving. Ours is a highly mobile society; nobody walks to the store or theater as I did when I was a child. Now it's a few steps to the driveway and off they go in the car.

An example of the positive effects of good operator training were the young helicopter pilots in the Vietnam War. My job as an adviser, the year I was there, required me to fly almost every day. The crews were young men, ages 18 and older. One of the pilots was only 19 years old. They were true professionals who took their business seriously. On several occasions when they received enemy fire they remained cool. During my tour, we heard of three door gunners who, after they returned home, were killed in auto accidents. From 1965 through 1973, approximately 58,000 troops were killed in Vietnam. In 1970 alone, 54,633 were killed in car wrecks in the United States.

From what I've read, the total combat deaths from all the wars fought by the United States, beginning with the Revolutionary War, won't exceed the number of deaths attributed to automobiles. And we've only been driving cars since the early 20th century.

I've been a licensed driver since 1948. Because of properly administered training by my father, I have never been involved in an accident. There was a wooded area near our home with an unused dirt road. He tested me for reflex action and also grilled me on the state driving code. I was allowed into light traffic when I got my learner's permit. Gradually, I was allowed into the heavier traffic.

The gravest danger our young people face sits in their driveway. That danger will be with them as long as they live. Keep driver education.

-- Jack Francis