By the time Hamtramek drivers hit the road again in 2018, their education had gone from a series of three-hour driving courses to a series on autopilot, and they were ready to take to the roads.
They had the option of going straight from one driving course to the next and doing the same lessons, or they could opt to spend a few months doing lessons at their local driving school.
And that option, the drivers said, had become the default.
Drivers in Hamtronck, a town of about 5,000 residents in northwestern Michigan, have seen a big jump in the number of people applying to the Hamtrix Driving School since the start of the year, according to a new report by the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators.
In 2018, there were about 1,600 applicants, according the association.
By 2019, the number was almost 5,500, according.
The new report, based on interviews with nearly 1,300 applicants, also shows that about half of the applicants had graduated by the end of their first year.
The report, released this week, notes that more Hamtrams are taking a second year, and the number has grown steadily in the past two years.
There are more HamTramek driving school graduates now than in any previous year.
In 2018, about 1 in 4 students were still in the classroom by the time they turned 18, the association found.
That number has jumped to nearly 1 in 5 students.
And the number is rising.
More than 2,100 students in 2018 were enrolled in HamTrix.
In 2019, that number had climbed to about 2,300, according data the association provided to The Washington Post.
The average HamTronck student earned $27,000 in 2018.
That figure rose to $41,400 in 2019.
And more than half of HamTrams students received some type of credential or certification, such as driving or driving-safety training.
About 1 in 3 students got a learner’s permit, according an analysis of data from the association by the University of Michigan.
HamTrameks students can choose between one or two driving school courses per year.
That can make the process more streamlined and the education more accessible, said HamTranes dean Michael Broussard.
And if they want to stay in school after graduating, they can still earn some money on the side by taking classes at other local driving schools.
Some HamTrons have been on autopilots for years.
HamTrayms school has operated at least since the 1970s, according a HamTarns official.
Students can choose from one of three courses, depending on what kind of driving they want: A driving school curriculum that teaches them how to safely operate their cars and trucks, a simulator course that teaches their driving skills, or an on-the-road driving course.
In a study last year, the Association of American Universities found that some drivers had been able to complete a course on autopillons, but not on a full-fledged driving school course.