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Oklahoma: Modernizing Teen Driver Work Zone and Move Over Safety

By Tom Robins | Founder of Work Zone Safe, modernizing work zone safety education and engagement tools for new teen drivers

Leaving their pamphlets behind, Oklahoma has become the first state in the nation to modernize work zone and move over safe training for new teen drivers. Oklahoma now requires completion of a Work Zone and Move Over Safe Course before teens can receive their intermediate driver’s license.

National Safety Crisis

Modernizing teen driver work zone and move over safety comes at a critical time as Oklahoma, along with the rest of the country, is experiencing a record number of road fatalities and injuries. What I like to share with Department of Transportation (DOT) officials is that our roads are flooded with digitally distracted drivers placing inexperienced drivers, road workers and first responders at elevated risk.

In 2022, the U.S. reported approximately 42,795 traffic-related deaths, emphasizing the pressing need for modernizing teen driver training. Distracted driving claimed 3,522 lives in 2021, with an additional 644 non-occupants, such as pedestrians, falling victim to distracted-related crashes.

Lessons from Oklahoma’s Oil Field

After serving as Oklahoma’s Deputy Secretary of Energy, I formed the Energize for Safety Coalition, focused on transportation safety in Oklahoma communities where oil and gas were being produced. This experience made me realize that high school students — young drivers who were developing lifelong habits — needed additional support. They lacked modernized driver education tools, hands-on experience and online training to help them safely share the road with heavy trucks and equipment.

At the time, I worked closely with Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation Mike Patterson. He and other transportation leaders often wore orange ribbons, which signified the more than 70 Oklahoma Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Turnpike Authority employees who had lost their lives on the job.

I discovered that Oklahoma — like most states — had minimal requirements for teen drivers to learn about work zones or demonstrate slowing down and moving over safely for first responders.

Oklahoma Launches Work Zone Safe

In 2021, ODOT leadership went all in on modernizing its work zone and move over to safety education for new teen drivers. Oklahoma began to offer in-person and online voluntary Work Zone Safe training for all new teen drivers. Teens who successfully completed work zone and move over safety training were then eligible for an insurance discount and the opportunity to win a $500 educational scholarship.

Oklahoma Work Zone Safe Law

It is my goal to ensure that every new teen driver knows there is a face and a family behind every flag and flashing light. Two legislative champions — Representative Ronny Johns, Chair of the House Transportation Committee and Senator Darcy Jech, Chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee —took the lead.

The legislators co-authored Oklahoma House Bill 2418, adding a single requirement to existing law: that the teen applicant complete “a free course approved by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation on teen driver work zone and first responder safety.” In April 2023, the bill passed nearly unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Kevin Stitt.

The Results

Since the law went into effect on November 1, 2023, 18,244 teen drivers have completed the online program available at www.WorkZoneSafe.com.


In November 2023, Oklahoma became the first state in the country to require teen drivers to complete a course to help them safely navigate work zones and move over safely for first responders. The new law, requires all Oklahoma teens to complete the free Oklahoma Work Zone and Move Over Safe online course before they apply for their intermediate driver licenses.

The new online course is designed for teens ages 15 to 19 and takes about one hour to complete. It covers topics ranging from driver preparation for work zones, relevant laws and signs, signals and protocols. The course includes video testimonials of teens, workers and families who endured life-changing losses by events in work zones and as first responders.

The Oklahoma traveling hands-on work zone program is another opportunity to bring students face-to-face with highway workers, who explain how to drive through work zones so that everyone can get home safely. This traveling program, which began in 2021 by Work Zone Safe, is supported by ODOT and the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority, Oklahoma Challenge Teen Traffic Safety Program and other parties. Since this program’s inception in 2021, more than 18,000 teens have taken part in the experience.

The workers and first responders who participate in these interactive sessions all have a story to tell. The teens respond with empathy and immediately recognize that there is a face and a family behind every flag and flashing light.

Safer Road Ahead

Everyone deserves to come home safely every day. When it comes to work zones and sharing the road with first responders, all drivers need to have their eyes up, phones down — buckle up and slow down.

Oklahoma is pleased to be leading the way in preparing our young people to be safer, more responsible drivers by teaching them valuable skills and by exposing them to the hardworking people they see on the roadside and behind barriers and signs.

I am currently working to bring Work Zone Safe to other states interested in modernizing their work zone and move over safe education for teen drivers. The National Work Zone Safety Course also is now available for all teens at www.WorkZoneSafe.com with a scholarship provided by the American Traffic Safety Services Foundation.

Our goal is simple: every new teen driver needs to know there is a face and a family behind every flag and flashing light.


“We want teenagers who are learning to drive to have the added benefit of work zone safety education before they ever encounter one for the first time behind the wheel of a vehicle. Work zones require all drivers to be very focused by putting away all distractions to ensure that they, other motorists, and our workers all stay safe. We’re proud to see Oklahoma taking the lead and the needed steps to do more to educate and engage drivers about being safe in work zones and how to safely share the road with first responders. We also want to thank the Oklahoma state legislature and Gov. Kevin Stitt for their support of this important safety program.”

Tim Gatz | Executive Director, Oklahoma Department of Transportation