Hayes’ bill creating uniformity in driver training education gains governor’s signature
A bill authored by Rep. Dave Hayes, R-Camano Island, that will create better oversight and uniformity between commercial driver training and high school driver's education programs was signed into law Friday, May 5, by Gov. Jay Inslee.
Hayes says two different sets of laws govern private driver training schools and traffic safety education courses offered by some high schools in the state. The completion of driver training at either program is required for those under the age of 18 to be eligible to receive an intermediate driver's license.
“Even though it has received no funding to do so since 2001, the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction (OSPI) has been overseeing driver training in high schools that continue to offer the courses, and has retained that authority. The Department of Licensing (DOL) is responsible for administration and enforcement of laws pertaining to private driver training schools and licensing of those schools,” said Hayes.
“There are different rules among the two agencies for licensing instructors, curricula and record keeping. There is no uniformity and no coordination between OSPI and DOL and information is not shared between the two agencies. Consequently, it's become a mess because we are trying to train drivers under the age of 18 with two separate systems that have no means to work together and are worse separately,” added Hayes.
Hayes noted it has even become a public safety issue, as DOL cannot confirm that a student in the high school program has completed all course requirements, and has issued licenses to some students who have not completed the program.
“We know of at least one fatality accident and another involving a serious injury because of this lack of interagency communication,” said Hayes, a Snohomish County Sheriff's sergeant.
House Bill 1481 contains several components aimed at creating uniformity and agency coordination within the two driver's education programs, including:
- Requires school districts that offer driver's education courses certify to DOL that the program meets certain curriculum, instructor, record retention, and accuracy in reporting requirements;
- Requires OSPI and DOL to jointly develop and maintain a required traffic safety education curriculum for school districts and private driver training schools in consultation with Central Washington University's traffic safety education program;
- Mandates school districts maintain certain specified records on program instructors;
- Requires DOL to conduct traffic safety education program audits in consultation with OSPI; and
- Authorizes DOL to suspend a school district's traffic safety education program certification, in consultation with OSPI under certain circumstances.
Hayes credited Deb Grenier, a traffic safety instructor with the Sedro-Woolley School District and Cascade Job Corps, for the bill.
“Deb and her husband, Gary, contacted me on this matter back during my first term and asked for my assistance to reform traffic safety education in our state by merging the DOL and OSPI programs,” said Hayes. “Deb was very active in the development of the bill at every step. She always kept me up to speed with the inside view and provided information from traffic safety instructors and stakeholders across the state. I am pleased she joined us as we watched the governor sign this important legislation into law.”
The bill takes effect Aug. 1, 2018, except for the section relating to interagency coordination, which goes into effect in July.
PHOTO CAPTION: Deb Grenier, traffic safety instructor with the Sedro-Woolley School District and Cascade Job Corps (left), and Rep. Dave Hayes (right), watch as Gov. Jay Inslee signs House Bill 1481. The measure will create better uniformity and agency coordination among driver education programs provided by school districts and commercial driver training schools. Photo courtesy Washington House of Representatives.
###Washington State House Republican Communications