Young driver's who complete driver's education no longer need to take DMV test

by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Rich Hanson, a drivers education instructor in Tigard-Tualatin, has been helping shape the cirriculum since the mid-1990s. Studets can now forgo a DMV driving test for their drivers license if they complete a certified drivers ed class. For decades, Richard Hanson has been teaching Tigard and Tualatin’s high school students the finer points of driving.

Now, he’s going a step further.

A new rule in Oregon law allows students who complete certified driver’s education courses to forgo the nerve-wracking driving test through the Department of Motor Vehicles and instead get their license through the class.

“Driver’s ed programs are standardized, and the teachers all have the same training, they go over similar curriculum,” said Hanson, a retired teacher in the Tigard-Tualatin School District who has stayed on as one of the district’s driver’s ed instructors. “Why not say that once the kids take a driver’s ed class and pass, they should get their license?”

Hanson, who was named National Driver Education Teacher of the Year in 2006, has worked at the local, state and national level in driver’s education.

The new law took effect on Jan. 1, Hanson said, and is available at any driver’s ed program certified through Oregon’s Traffic Safety Division, including classes offered Tigard-Tualatin and Sherwood school districts.

At the DMV, assessors spend about 10 minutes with students in order to test their knowledge of the rules of the road, Hanson said. That’s not the case in driver’s education classes.

“In driver’s ed, we spend six hours in the car with them,” Hanson said. “At the DMV, you take a 10-minute drive, and now for the rest of your life, you own that license. For us, we watch the progress from a novice driver to someone that we can say, ‘Yes, this person can actually do this.’”

Students do still have to take a knowledge test through the DMV before they can get their license, Hanson said, and prove they have completed at least 50 hours behind the wheel.

“But if you take driver’s ed, the knowledge test is a breeze,” he said.

Driver’s education classes in Tigard-Tualatin cost $300, with discounts available for students with economic hardships.

Hanson admits that might sound steep, but it provides a lifetime of knowledge.

“That will get you, in some cases, a reduction in your insurance, so it pays for itself quickly,” he said. “It also helps develop the skill set, and aptitude for driving over a lifetime. If you take it when you are 18, that’s another 70 years of driving ahead of you that you are prepared for. That’s a well spent $300.”

Driver’s education is an important course for young driver’s to take before they head out on the road, Hanson said.

“We don’t want kids to learn to drive by accident,” he said. “We want them to learn from methodological way and make decisions that are well informed and practiced.”

Hanson is helping to develop national standards for teacher training.

“We drive by habit,” he said. “We automate certain procedural skills. We don’t bring them to a conscious level. You just turn key, put safety belt on, turn your headlights on and go. I have procedures in place that I do by habit, but a nervous driver has to practice these things and develop that habit.”

Learn the rules of the road

Tigard-Tualatin offers two 30-hour-long classroom sessions of instruction each year, a spring session at each high school and a summer session held at Tualatin High School, which begins in June.

The district is currently accepting applications for this summer’s driver’s education course. The classes are open to both residents and non-residents of the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

In order to take driver’s ed, students must be 17 and younger and have a learner’s permit.

Registration for this summer’s driver’s ed may be completed by contacting the Tualatin High bookkeeper, at 503-431-5613. Registration forms are also available on the Tualatin High School website,

For more information, contact Ron Dyer at 503-431-5736.

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