Historical Background

Driver Education: Coordinates efforts to improve driver education thereby reducing fatal and injury crashes in first time drivers through:

1) Coordination of Driver Education course content;

2) Certification of public and private driver education providers;

3) Public information, education programs and resources;

4) Oversight of student driver training fund for public school reimbursement;

5) Coordination of train-the-trainer curriculum development

      During the last five years Oregon’s driver education program has expanded and improved. Oregon’s driver education program seeks to develop safe and efficient drivers who understand that all young drivers should become  competent, caring, productive, and responsible traffic safety citizens who are committed to improving driver performance throughout their lifetime. The goal of the Oregon’s driver education program is to develop a system that results in measurably safer new drivers with fewer injuries and deaths. In 2000 the Legislature moved the Driver Education program from the Department of Education to the Oregon Department of Transportation in the Transportation Safety Division. Under the leadership of Administrator, Troy Costales, the Division created an action plan that looked at four cornerstones of a quality driver education program. The Division established four Task Forces that held public forums throughout the state looking at Curriculum, Instructor Standards, Pubic Outreach and Operation. As a result of the task force work, a four year action plan was formulated.  Key areas of program development included:

1) Standards for acceptable driver education curriculum for licensing purposes

2) Standards for acceptable driver education curriculum for reimbursement purposes,

3) Standards for instructor trainers of driver education and driver education instructor teacher competencies for classroom and behind the wheel

4) Standards for operational and financial issues(reimbursement procedures and qualification criteria)

 5) Consistent statewide standards that included content, delivery and outcomes for local public and private approved driver education providers.


Successes of the Oregon Driver Education Program

      1. The Oregon Parent Involvement Resource Guide was developed with a partnership with the Oregon Traffic Safety Education Association.  It has two primary goals: (1) to develop materials for teachers to use in getting parents more involved with their teenagers learning to drive; and (2) to create a parent handbook to assist, promote and provide guidance in helping parents to provide behind the wheel and practice and experience.

      2. In 2005 the Oregon Driver Education Risk Prevention Curriculum CD was completed. The Curriculum is available at www.otsea.org. Files of the CD include a curriculum resource file that contains a localized scope and sequence sample, curriculum flow chart, program improvement plan and several other documents to help localize a curriculum.  Each Module contains:
a. An overview and activities document
b. Classroom and in-car lesson plans
c. Homework assignment sheets and keys
d. Classroom worksheets and keys
e. Movie Clips (in some modules)
f. In-car driving route, record, and activities documents
g. Parent student guided practice route
h. Entrance and exit exams and keys
i. Interactive student centered power point lessons and their overhead counterparts.

      This document, and its related documents and resources were created through a partnership between Oregon Department of Transportation and Western Oregon University. It is a representation of a localized Traffic Safety Education curriculum and brings together resources and materials gleaned from the WOU-ODOT Trainer of Trainers Curriculum, National Driver Training Credentialing Program of the American Driver and Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA) and the National Institute for Driver Behavior (NIDB) Driver Risk Prevention Curriculum. It follows the NIDB Risk Prevention Curriculum behavioral delivery sequences. It is designed to meet the minimum standards of driver behavior risk prevention as set forth by the ADTSEA and NIDB.
      3. The establishment of a Driver Education Advisory Committee was created two years ago. The duties of the committee are solely advisory. The Committee’s responsibilities are to give advice on driver education issues.
      Duties of the committee are to:

  • Advise and confer on matters pertaining to the establishment of rules necessary to carry out duties of the Driver Education Program.
  • Work toward the goal of making driver and traffic safety education programs available to all youthful drivers of Oregon.
  • Review and update guidelines for the operation of the Driver and Traffic Safety Education Program.
  • Promote the Graduated Driver Licensing Program.
  • Promote partnerships with the Driver and Motor Vehicle Services; including third party testing, tester training and driving school regulations, etc.
  • Act as a sounding board on forms, processes, etc., on the Student Driver Training Fund reimbursement program.
  • Provide a communication channel between driver education and stakeholders.
  • Stimulate public awareness of driver education needs and contributions.
  • Serve as an advocate of driver education.
  • Influence driver education support through appropriate channels.
  • Lend credibility and stature to driver education programs. 


  4. Instructor Training Standards were developed and implemented. More than 475 instructors have gone through training established by minimum standards of competency. A group of instructors completed the trainer of trainers conducted by the American Driver Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA). Last year more than 47 teacher preparation courses were conducted to more than 300 instructors.

      5. A national study completed in Oregon in January 2005 reviewed teen driving records, including 16, 17, 18 and 19-year old drivers.  It compared those that had 50 hours of driving practice and a formal driver education course, against those that chose 100 hours of driving practice with their parents and no driver education course.
a. The crash rate for the teens taking formal driver education was 11-21% LOWER than those taking 100 hours of practice time with their parents.
b. The traffic conviction rate for the teens taking formal driver education was 39-57% LOWER than those taking 100 hours of practice time with their parents.
c. The driver license suspension rate for the teens taking formal driver education was 51-53% LOWER than those taking 100 hours of practice time with their parents.

      6. 2005 Teen Licensing Survey was published through ODOT Research Unit that contracted with the University of Oregon Survey Research Laboratory to conduct a study on parents, and teen’s attitudes, views, and behavior about newly licensed teens. The study’s goal was to obtain statistically valid and reliable information concerning a wide variety of transportation issues such as opinions and attitudes on accidents and crashes, instruction, risky behavior, driving behavior, parent rules and employment.

      7. The Legislature increased funding to $210 per student completing an approved driver education program.

Recommendations for Improvement

The Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan (OTSAP) envisions a future where Oregon’s transportation-related death and injury rate continues to decline. This renewed OTSAP encourages us to develop partnerships among state and local governments, community groups, businesses, and the media to achieve a safer transportation system. With a shared commitment, the actions in the plan can be effectively implemented.

      The 2004 Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan is a living document that gives direction to our efforts and guides investment decisions. The sixty nine actions can be considered Oregon’s transportation safety agenda for the next twenty years. Driver education is highlighted as a one of the nine key actions—Driver education will be given highest priority for implementation by the year 2010.  In implementing these key actions, consideration should be given to those geographical areas with the greatest needs, based, in part, on an analysis of transportation crash data.


OTSAP Action 10 - Expand Driver Education in Oregon

      Improve and expand the delivery system for driver education in Oregon. Consider the following in designing a model program:

Consider legislation to make driver education mandatory for new drivers under age 18.

Evaluate the possibility of funding the increased cost of providing this additional training by raising learning permit fees. (Completed)

If feasible, by the year 2015 extend this requirement to all persons seeking their first driver license.

Establish new and improved standards to support quality driver and traffic safety education programs.(Completed)

Establish a definition of what a model driver is in terms of knowledge, skill, behavior and habits. Once the definition is established, design a curriculum that is aligned with the expectations of a model driver. The curricula should address content, methods, and student assessments.(In Progress)

Establish standards for teacher preparation programs that fully prepare instructors to model and teach the knowledge, skill behavior and habits needed. These standards should include specific requirements for ongoing professional development.(Completed)

Evaluate the possibility of establishing a licensing process that measures driver readiness as defined by the model driver, and employs a process that facilitates the safety means to merge the     learning driver into mainstream driving.

Establish program standards that apply to every driver education/training program/school. (Completed)

Develop oversight and management standards that hold the driver education system accountable. These standards should encourage quality and compel adherence to program standards.

Identify and promote strategies that establish a driver and traffic safety education system. This system should promote lifelong driver learning, and foster a commitment to improve driver performance throughout the driver’s life span.

Create partnerships to support driver education. (Continuing)

Identify and promote best practices for teaching and learning among and between parents, educators, students and other citizens. (In Progress)


Priority Driver Education Issues for the Next 18 Months Include:

1) Complete the OAR Revision Process (6 month process).

2) Assist providers in marketing, curriculum development and instructor training.

3) Continue to partner with DMV to support quality driver and traffic safety education.

4) Promote and work with school/communities to offer driver education through schools, community colleges and/or educational service districts.

5) Update the Oregon Driver Risk Prevention Curriculum.

6) Conduct regional curriculum workshops in the winter and spring.

7) Conduct and monitor Trainer of Trainers activities.

8) Monitor providers of driver education (conduct at least 25 on site inspections).

9) Implement strategies of the Oregon Transportation Safety Action Plan for improving the quality and delivery of driver education.

10) Provide a public awareness campaign to gain support for requiring driver education by using the recent research studies and data analysis.

11) Create legislative concepts.

    A. Requiring Driver Education for all new young drivers under 18

    B . Reimbursement for all approved Driver Education  providers

    C. GDL restrictions extended from 6 to 12 months

    D. Low Income Incentive for the Driver Education Program

    E. Cell Phone usage in GDL


      The Oregon Driver Education program is saving lives, reducing injuries, dramatically reducing the impact of teen driving and is making our newest drivers better and safer. 


John L. Harvey, Program Manager, Driver Eduction