TEACHING TRAFFIC EDUCATION DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC - Updated 12/17/2020


State-approved Traffic Education Programs and Online Instruction

State-approved traffic education programs can continue to deliver classroom coursework via online platforms during the COVID-19 pandemic. Teachers can use Teams, Google Classroom, or other web-based applications to connect remotely in real time with their students. They should also use assessment tools to track their students’ progress. There are at least two times that in-person meetings should be held: the Parent Meeting and Knowledge Exam testing. Contact the OPI Traffic Education Office for more information.

Behind-the-Wheel Instruction during the Pandemic

To keep students and teachers safe during this time, the six hours of required in-vehicle instruction must follow safety protocols that minimize contact.  All occupants in the vehicle should wear face masks at all times, use hand sanitizer, take frequent breaks to bring fresh air into the vehicle, and use sanitizer to disinfect surfaces. Consult with county health officials and/or your school nurse for local guidance on best practices.

Avoid Third-Party Driver Education Websites

Third-party websites that claim to offer driver education for Montana teens should be avoided. They do not satisfy the requirements and students taking these course will be disappointed when they attempt to apply for a driver license. Please advise the families in your community that only state-approved, school-based traffic education programs will provide this instruction for teens under the age of 16.  Once a teen is 16, they can obtain a learner license and be taught and supervised by an adult driver authorized by a parent/guardian.

State-Approved Driver Education for Montana Teens (14.5 to 19 years of age)

Montana's school districts offer quality state-approved driver education that includes traffic safety, parent/guardian involvement, and Graduated Driver Licensing (GDL). The Traffic Education Unit approves instructors and school-based programs to ensure Montana standards and requirements are met (10.13.3: Program Standards and Course Requirements for Traffic Education).

Teens who successfully complete a state-approved driver education course in Montana have at least:

  • 60 hours of traffic education instruction including 6 hours of behind-the-wheel in-traffic instruction (see Curriculum Standards).
  • A minimum of 25 days of instruction taught by a state-approved traffic educator.
  • The opportunity to study for and take the Learner License knowledge exam and receive a Learner License during the traffic education course.

Download the Montana Traffic Education Standards & Requirements (updated 2017-2019) for detailed information on Montana's traffic education programs.

Privately-owned, web-based driver education courses do not satisfy State of Montana requirements for driver education.


Looking for a Driver Education Course in Montana?

Teens under the age of 16 who wish to drive must complete a state-approved traffic education course offered by a Montana school district.  Teens under the age of 19 can enroll in a state-approved driver education course if they are 14.5 years of age before the course completion date.  Districts may prioritize equitable enrollment based on additional criteria such as older students, first come-first serve, or by lottery. 

Online driver education courses and privately-run driver education schools are not approved by the State of Montana because they do not meet the minimum standards and requirements. 

To learn more about registering a teen driver for driver education, please contact your local school district or high school. 

Visit Approved High School Driver Education Programs to search for Montana school districts offering driver education. Program dates and traffic education instructors for the current and previous school years are shown.


Cooperative Driver Licensing Program (CDTP)

The OPI partners with the Montana Department of Justice, Motor Vehicle Division (MVD) to oversee the Cooperative Driver Testing Program (CDTP), which allows certified teachers to administer driver license tests and issue Learner Licenses (MCA 61-5-110).  Traffic education funding from a percentage of driver license fees is reimbursed to schools to partially offset school district driver education expenses.  Teens must be at least age 14.5 to take the knowledge exam and receive a Learner License. 

CDTP-certified traffic educators are asked to contact the Traffic Education Office for replacement CDTP manuals, quick reference guides or CDTP certification forms.

Students with Disabilities in Driver Education

This guide to Accommodating Students with Disabilities in Driver Education can help administrators, teachers and parents determine the best situation for a teen driver with physical or mental challenges. 

The Informational Guide for Driver Education Instructors who work with Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing Students is also an excellent resource.


TEACHER LEARNING HUB COURSE! 

CDTP-Course-ad

CDTP Refresher ONLY for CDTP-Certified Traffic Education Instructors. Teachers will need to create an account and can take the one-hour course for one OPI renewal unit. Enrollment key will be required.

Graduated Driver Licensing

Montana's GDL law (MCA 61.5.132-135) is a three-step program that reduces the risk while new drivers under age 18 develop and improve their driving skills.  Teens still get to drive—with supervision—and gradually gain experience to begin driving on their own, but with restrictions  on night driving and passengers.

Young drivers face the highest crash risk in darkness and each teen passenger doubles the crash risk.  Safety research is clear that newly licensed drivers should start driving with no young passengers.  Learning to drive is a complex, ongoing process that requires responsibility and thousands of miles of practice to develop competence, skill, and judgment. Just like with sports and music, good habits and abilities grow through experience and good coaching. 

When teens have their full privilege license, parents should continue to drive with their teen, monitor, model, and enforce the rules, and encourage safe driving habits.