Nation's First Driver Education Course
The State College Area School District was the first in the nation to develop and implement a driver's education and automobile maintenance course. In conjunction with faculty members at Penn State and the borough, the premiere driving instruction class was held in spring 1935. Amos E. Neyhart, a Penn State industrial engineering professor, propounded the original concept and curriculum of the class.
Initially, the class was offered as a non-credit elective conducted outside of school hours of operation. Under Roosevelt's New Deal Policy various programs were created to stimulate the economy by increasing job opportunities and community development projects, such as the Works Progress Administration--which had the largest contingency of employees in comparison to all other New Deal programs.
In 1936, the WPA contributed $200 to the Board for the accrued expenses of the course and it became a required segment of the high school curriculum by 1940. This addition signified that the S.C.A.S.D became the first public school system in the United States to adopt an instructional program for safe driving and vehicle maintenance.
The successful implementation of the driver's education course in the high school resulted in the establishment of an Institute of Public Safety at Penn State under the supervision of Professor Neyhart. He then proceeded to advance driver-training programs on a national level under the auspices of the American Automobile Association.
To accommodate the increasing costs and demand of driver education courses, the Board later approved the construction of a practice-driving roadway. The site included a control tower and was adjacent to the senior high school on Westerly Parkway. In addition to teaching new drivers the rules of the road, the facility also assisted with the re-education of experienced drivers whose licenses were suspended due to motor code infractions.