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Wayne Tully / National Driver Training

National Driver Training Institute was the brainchild of Founder and CEO Wayne Tully who, by the mid-1990s, had grown alarmed by the increasingly ugly statistics on teen driver fatalities.

Like most professionals in the industry, Wayne had long known that states could not afford to provide the kind of driver training in public schools that their own experts had advocated. And indeed, by this point, many states had pulled out of the drivers ed business altogether. But while ever more parents were now picking up the tab for the improved drivers ed programs offered by private companies, the expected downtick in teen crashes did not occur. Something new was going on, and Wayne Tully, with his extensive background in traffic safety and training, was the first to spot it and take action.

It wasn't just that state requirements weren't factoring in the increase in traffic and driver-distractions young drivers now face - although both are serious problems indeed. It was that states were not paying attention to the evolving psychological profile of the young drivers themselves. Our increasingly digitized lifestyle is training our young to be bold and adventurous on their first attempt at everything, confident that the petty little errors can be cleaned up later on: Spelling and grammar corrected, numbers recalculated, photos touched up and video clips reedited.

Exactness is now inconsequential to success. Rather, it is the willingness to bravely blunder forward that is the premier character trait determining a child's future. For almost two decades, parents and teachers alike have been hard at work nurturing this trait at the expense of others. Today's student driver really knows no other learning format, so we should not be surprised to find that they're basically programmed to "crash now, figure it out later".

"You simply cannot carry that attitude with you into the driver's seat," says Tully. "There's no backspace key on the dashboard". But he acknowledges students can't be expected to "relearn how to learn" at 15. The driver ed program must do it for them. It must slow them down, give them smaller goals spaced closer together, and provide plenty of time to practice what they're learning before giving them something new.

With this change in focus, National Driver Training Institute was born, as well as the nation's first Graduated Driver Licensing program: Help for the Teenager Who Wants to Drive .

Gears turning toward more driver education

The Tully approach caused huge reverberations across the country. Help for the Teenager Who Wants to Drive has been used as a guideline for developing teen driving laws by lawmakers in over 2 dozen states. Tully's knowledge, experience and insights made him popular, both as a sounding board and an expert witness, with state congresses considering GDL and parent-taught driver education programs. He has even gone on to co-author and otherwise lead the charge for changes in driver training laws in 28 states. This last year, Tully was one of only a handful of people selected from around the world to address the National Traffic Safety Board in Washington DC on the effectiveness of Parent Taught Driver Education.

Tully's followers contend that by keeping the requirements strict and the timeline for learning long, Wayne has single-handedly saved the lives of hundreds, maybe thousands, of teen drivers. Still, he is not without his critics. Compared to other programs, Tully's approach can seem unduly tough. But Tully is quick to retort, "Each item we cover is aimed at keeping the student from getting in a crash. Which of those items do you recommend removing?" Judging by the numbers generated by driver ed programs used in the past, the answer would be, "None of them."

Indeed, after decades of steadily worsening teen driver statistics, Tully's driver education programs and law-making efforts have begun reversing the trend. That's the kind of success no one wants to argue with!

Wayne Tully received his Traffic Safety Certification from The National Traffic Safety Institute and National Safety Council; and his Driver Education and Training Instructor and Teacher Instructor Certification from the University of New Mexico; the Department of Public Safety, of Texas; the Department of Education of Virginia; and the Department of Revenue, Driver License Division of Colorado. He is a State of Colorado Certified Driver License Tester and a published author. Over the years, Wayne's insights have been sought by over 150 live radio shows and national television news programs, and his writings have appeared in articles and lead stories in publications nationwide.

A father of 3 children, Tully lives in Lakeway, Texas with his wife of 45 years.