Tomorrow afternoon, the Public Education Committee will sit down together in Austin to discuss the fate of House Bill 1190.
This bill, if passed, will reduce the current mandatory minimum price for a state-approved defensive driving class from $25 to something as low as $3.
Though this may initially sound like a good thing for Texas drivers, consider for a moment what will happen after it's passage.
BAD FOR THE TEXAS ECONOMY
HB 1190 is one more example of government hurting small businesses to make more money for the big ones.
Many of the driving safety schools in Texas
At present there are several small, locally owned defensive driving schools across Texas. Some of these — like Comedy Guys Defensive Driving — are large, with both live classes and online courses. Most them, however, are very small operations: perhaps one guy or even a married couple who teach a class once a week or so to supplement their income. Many of the driving safety schools in Texas are the very definition of “mom and pop” businesses.
If HB 1190 passes, these small businesses will be wiped out.
Texas driving safety schools currently pay $2.70 to the state for each defensive driving certificate. Lowering the minimum cost so drastically will force the small businesses out of existence as their profits dry up to next to nothing.
It's very likely that live, in-person defensive driving classes may cease to exist altogether, leaving consumers with online defensive driving and nothing else.
The only driving safety schools that can survive such a slash in prices are the handful of the biggest companies — many of them national companies based in other states. Profits paid to these companies leave Texas and benefit local economies outside of our state.
BAD FOR TEXAS ROADS
Defensive driving classes — or driving safety courses, as the Texas legislature calls them — were begun to make Texas drivers better trained and Texas roads safer.
For many drivers, defensive driving is the only kind of training they receive after getting their licenses. We are the ones who warn them about the dangers of distracted driving, instruct them about the latest practices and research, and inform them about changes to laws.
If HB 1190 is permitted to wipe out most of the defensive driving schools, the few that remain will have less competition forcing them to do this job well. The only schools that can survive under this measure are the cut-rate, poor quality online courses that couldn't care less about you and your safety on the road.
Do you really think some corporation based in California is going to care about how safely Texas drivers handle their cars?
Moreover, being large, impersonal, and probably far away from their customers, the few big course providers that remain if HB 1190 passes will have less reason to treat customers like more than just sources of income. Anyone who's ever dialed a customer service number and talked to an impersonal voice halfway round the world already knows how that kind of remoteness ruins customer service. HB 1190 would make defensive driving just one more cold, impersonal business.
STILL TIME TO FIGHT
Time is running out, but it's not gone yet.
There's still time to sign a petition to stop HB 1190. Any Texas driver can sign this petition, and everyone who benefits from our driving safety courses should. And that includes every Texas driver: even those who've never taken a driving safety course benefits when the driver in the next lane has.
And contact the members of the Public Education Committee and tell them to oppose HB 1190.
Use social media such as Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus to ask your friends to also oppose this proposed legislation. On Facebook, you can even “like” the Stop Texas HB 1190 page.
Don't let driving safety education become just one more industry
where small businesses are wiped out and only
large, impersonal corporations can afford to participate.
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