Driver's education programs

Completion of a licensed Professional Driver’s Education program is required of all Class D and M driver's license applicants under the age of 18 in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.

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Types of driver's education programs

Driver's education in Massachusetts is offered at public high schools and by professional driving schools licensed by the RMV. Although each school is licensed separately, they are required to meet the same criteria.

Public School Driver Education Program

A driver's education program taught to students matriculating at public high schools. These programs are offered at public high schools or as part of a continuing education program sponsored by the local school district. Typically, high school faculty members or employees of the school district that are licensed by the RMV to teach driver's education teach these programs.

Professional Driving School Programs

A driver’s education program conducted by a private driving school that is licensed by the RMV and is typically conducted at a private facility. Employees of the driving school that are licensed by the RMV to instruct driver's education teach these programs.

Driver Skills Development Program

A Driver Skills Development Program offers advanced driver training in accident avoidance techniques to individuals who possess a valid driver's license, or a valid learner's permit and have completed a minimum of 10 hours supervised behind-the-wheel training. These programs are conducted in a controlled environment on an off-road training course at actual roadway speeds.

What to Look for in a Driver's Education Program

You may want to consider the following when shopping around for a driver's education program. Remember, take your time and shop smart. This is one of the most important investments you may ever make!

Interview the driving school owner or manager
  • Ask the owner how long the school has been in operation.
  • Ask for a statement of school policies and procedures. It should include: classroom hours and curriculum, in-car instruction and skills to be taught, how to book in-car hours, payment policies, refund policies, and cancellation policies.
  • Ask the owner or instructor what the classroom student to teacher ratio is for the particular class you will be attending.
  • Ask for references from people who have attended the school.
Visit the school
  • Did you notice the RMV-issued license posted in a visible place?
  • Are all the licenses and instructor certifications up-to-date?
  • Is the classroom clean with up-to-date facilities, equipment, and textbooks?
  • What condition are the vehicles in? Are they clean? Do they have ABS brakes? The RMV recommends that the vehicles are no older than 5-10 years old or have low mileage.

Driver's education requirements

To be eligible for a driver education certificate, a student must complete the following two program components:

  1. Classroom Instruction consisting of a minimum of 30 hours for the purpose of educating and familiarizing students with Massachusetts motor vehicle law and of safe and proper operation of a motor vehicle.
  2. Motor Vehicle On-Road Instruction consisting of 18 hours of instruction in a driving training motor vehicle including a minimum of 12 hours of actual behind-the-wheel instruction and 6 hours of observation while another student is taking behind-the-wheel instruction.

A student must complete the driver education program (both classroom instruction and motor vehicle on-road instruction) within 2 years from the first session in a driver education program. A student must have a valid learner’s permit and be 16 years of age before she/he may participate in motor vehicle on-road instruction.

Classroom instruction covers at a minimum the following areas of study:

  • The Massachusetts driver’s license
  • The driver’s license privilege
  • Motor vehicle safety
  • Rules of the road
  • Defensive driving and special situations
  • Vehicle ownership

On-road instruction is designed to train each student in the various controls and devices in the driver’s compartment and how to apply their new driving knowledge to the road. Instructors are required at a minimum to teach how to start the engine, engage the gears, make left and right turns, turn the vehicle around, stop and start on hills and grades, back-up, park, and drive in traffic and on the open highway.

Safe driving tips

Here are a few tips that will help you as you first get behind the wheel that ring true every time that you are behind the wheel. This is by no means a complete list. Please read the Driver's Manual for a more detailed review of safe driving practices that apply to both regular and special driving situations.

When you get into the car and turn it on, before taking the car out of park you should:

  • Always make sure that the mirrors are adjusted appropriately.
  • Fasten your seat belt.
  • Be aware of where all the operating controls are (windshield wipers, lights, high beams, etc.).
  • Check that your seat is positioned correctly.

Immediately after taking your car out of park, be sure to:

  • Use appropriate turn signals.
  • Look in both mirrors and over your shoulder before pulling out or backing out.
  • Use two hands on opposite sides of the steering wheel for maximum control.


  • Be aware of the traffic around you (oncoming and behind).
  • Stop behind the crosswalk or limit line.
  • Stop the vehicle gently. Start braking well ahead of where you are stopping to avoid unnecessary jarring of the vehicle (and your neck!).
  • If your view is obstructed, move forward with caution and always look both ways at an intersection.


  • Turns are meant to be taken at low speeds.
  • When you start a turn, make sure you are lined up to end the turn in the appropriate lane. Taking wide turns is dangerous.
  • Yield to the vehicle with the right of way when necessary.

Backing out:

  • You should avoid having to back out of spots as often as possible, but when necessary, be sure to check mirrors and look both ways over your shoulder.

Changing lanes:

  • Use appropriate signals.
  • Check your mirrors and check over your shoulder to view blind spot.
  • Maintain your speed.

Avoid Distractions:

  • Do not talk or text on your cell phone or other mobile device while driving.
  • Do not eat or drink while driving.
  • Use caution when changing music or other controls.
  • Pull over safely to the side of the road if you need to make a phone call or check a map.

Other Driving Techniques:

  • Always check intersecting streets before passing through.
  • Maintain a safe following distance, the faster you are going, the more distance you should leave.
  • Drive defensively by anticipating other drivers' errors.
  • Always be on the look out for potential hazards by checking your mirrors often and looking not only at the cars directly ahead of you, but the cars that are ahead of them.

File a driving school complaint

Persons wishing to file a complaint against a driving school or driving school instructor must do so in writing. Written complaints should contain the following basic information:

  • Complainants name, address and contact number.
  • Name and address of the driving school the complaint is against.
  • If the complaint is against a driving school instructor, the name of the instructor and driving school the instructor is employed by.
  • The nature of the complaint.

Complainants will be contacted by an RMV representative within 7 days from receipt of the complaint. Complaints may be forwarded by mail, fax, or e-mail to the following:

Registry of Motor Vehicles
Driver Licensing Department
P.O. Box 55889
Boston, MA 02205-5889
(857) 368-0820

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