Proposed Driver Education Changes

Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land
April 27, 2006

STUDENTS

  • Model curriculum for teen driver education – The Department of State will require a model curriculum for the two segments of teen driver education in Michigan. Currently, there is no prescribed curriculum for Segment 1 and the Segment 2 curriculum is in need of re-evaluation.
  • Additional hour of behind-the-wheel instruction – An additional hour of driving time will be required of students in Segment 2. The change will offer students and their parents the opportunity to conduct a final evaluation of driving skills. Currently, the combined segments in the program include a minimum of 30 hours of classroom instruction and six hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
  • Reduction in applicable drive time at ranges – Students will be able to apply no more than two hours of drive time at a closed-course multiple vehicle driving facility (also known as a "range") toward their behind-the-wheel requirements. Current rules allow range instruction without an instructor in the vehicle to replace up to three hours of behind-the-wheel instruction.
  • Certification of ranges – The Department of State will certify ranges separately from providers and establish minimum requirements for certification. By ensuring compliance with minimum requirements, more uniformity in range instruction will be provided.
  • Knowledge test in both segments of driver education program – Students will be required to pass a department-prescribed knowledge test for both Segment 1 and Segment 2 before receiving a certificate of completion. Currently, a knowledge test is only administered in Segment 1. The overall pool of questions will be expanded and updated and multiple versions of tests will be distributed to discourage cheating. The option of administering tests electronically is also being explored.

 

PROVIDERS AND INSTRUCTORS

  • Uniform certification for public schools and private providers – All driver education providers and instructors will be certified every two years. Currently, private driver ed providers are licensed annually while public providers receive lifetime certification and public instructors remain approved for as long as their teaching certificate is valid.
  • Individual certification of instructors – All instructors will be certified individually and will not be required to obtain multiple certifications if employed by more than one provider. A single certification will suffice to work at multiple providers in the state.
  • Model curriculum for driver education instructor preparation – Approved institutions in Michigan that train driving instructors will implement a model curriculum based on nationally recognized standards. Current rules lack specificity on instructor preparation curriculum. All new instructors, except for those for truck drivers, will be required to complete the approved coursework, which will include a practicum or "hands-on" training opportunity with other driving instructors. Current instructors will not be required to take the coursework.
  • Professional criteria and requirements – The department will establish professional development criteria and requirements for instructors, which will ensure they are exposed to the most up-to-date information and teaching methods. Any qualified instructor will be able to teach in a public school driver ed program. There will no longer be a requirement that they possess a Michigan teaching certificate.
  • Criminal history checks every four years – Fingerprint-based criminal history checks will be required of all instructors, school owners, designated representatives and coordinators every four years until an automated subscription service is available. Currently, private providers are reporting every two years, private instructors every five years and public instructors must complete a single background check by July 1, 2008 and self-report subsequent convictions. An automated subscription service will eliminate periodic fingerprinting because all prints will be preserved and monitored for posted disqualifying events.
  • Medical exam reports every two years – Favorable medical exam reports will be required of all instructors every two years in order to maintain certification. Currently, public school driving instructors are not required to have their health checked.
  • Automatic denial/revocation of certification – Providers and instructors will immediately lose their license if convicted of a specified offense such as criminal sexual conduct or felony fraud. Previously, a denial or revocation required a time and labor-intensive administrative process. Immediate license denial or revocation will also occur if providers or instructors commit any single violation that places four or more points on their driving record, or multiple driving offenses that accumulate six or more points on their record. Currently, convictions for 4-point speeding violations do not disqualify an instructor or provider. Further, sanctions have only been imposed on public instructors when they are assessed seven or more points within two years, and on private instructors when they accumulate 12 or more points on their record.
  • Fine in addition to license sanctions – In addition to license denial or revocation, violators will now also be subject to an administrative fine of up to $1,000 per violation.

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