By Ralph Novak
November 14, 1988 12:00 PM

Certainly this is a country whose highways are filled with graphic evidence of the need for better driver education, from the tragic epidemic of drunk driving to the only slightly less menacing buffoons who have made speeding and tailgating national pastimes. This 55-minute tape, designed for new drivers, tries to address the problem with humor. That might make it more palatable if the tape did not have such serious faults. Steve Verret, a Los Angeles-based comedian-driving instructor (only in L.A. would such a hyphenate exist), uses multiple-choice quizzes, blackboard diagrams and film footage to explain the basics of driving, while cracking a lot of bad jokes such as, “If you can hit three pedestrians within a year in New York, you get a microwave oven from the state.” The humor isn’t usually that offensive; Verret’s tendency to couch everything in adversarial terms is. There’s hardly a mention of common sense in driving, let alone such qualities as fairness. Instead Verret talks about how to avoid traffic tickets without ever acknowledging that traffic laws have any social value—as if every driver were in a competition to outwit the cops and make sure he never does anything unselfish on the roads. The tape comes with a study booklet based on a nationwide sampling of highway laws; California residents may want to practice wearing their bulletproof vests while reading it. (Horizon, $14.95; 818-841-9697)