When cars began replacing carriages on American roads in the early 20th century, there was no formal system for educating new drivers, and, not surprisingly, the accident rate was high. A. R. Lauer was an Associate Professor in Psychology, who came to Iowa State College (University) in 1930 and performed research on driving safety. By the mid-1930s, Lauer was involved in cooperative work with the Motor Vehicle Department for the State of Iowa.
In 1938, ISC’s President Charles E. Friley requested that the Psychology Department begin a driver education program for future teachers of driver’s training classes in public schools, and the program quickly became in high demand. Both the research and the training programs had a definite impact on the safety of Iowa roads. The following chart from Lauer’s report, Development of the driver education and research program at Iowa State College, shows a clear downward trend in the number of fatalities on Iowa highways from 1935 through 1955: