History of Driver's Ed: Simulators and Scare Films

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Driver's ed simulators from the '70s. Source: (Reddit)

Though it has a longer history, driver's education since the '50s has two components nobody can forget: driving simulators and scare films. The simulators were contraptions that were supposed to approximate driving conditions, and many vintage simulators are still in use today. But mastering the mechanics of steering, shifting and braking wasn't the only reason teens were taking driver's ed. There was also driver safety, and back in the day, the "safety" component was all about scaring the bejeezus out of the kids. So-called "scare films" included stern warnings, tales of lives ruined by carelessness, scenes of twisted wreckage, even graphic bloody imagery from real crashes -- nothing was out of bounds in the quest to keep teenagers from injury or death on the road. Over time, these films grew increasingly intense in their attempts to scare safe driving habits into young drivers. Why pay to see Texas Chainsaw Massacre in the theater when they're showing Death on the Highway at school for free?