The Montana Highway Patrol wants young drivers to learn safe driving habits early, even more than they learn during traditional drivers training courses.

That's the reason behind the 'Alive at 25' program, sponsored by the Montana Department of Justice and the Montana Highway Patrol. Trooper Timothy Templeton is an instructor for the program in Missoula.

"It's a program designed for 15 to 25 year-old's," Templeton said. "It's like a defensive driving course that presents them with tactics, strategies and ways to go about being a safer driver. It was designed for this specific age group because they struggle the most with driving due to their limited amount of experience."

Templeton said the program is often ordered by the court to young drivers who have been convicted of driving offenses.

"It's primarily been court-ordered, but it's also open to the general public," he said. "We just want the public to be aware, if you know someone between the ages of 15 and 25 that could use a little help, maybe to even think about their driving, this would be perfect for them."

Templeton said the 'Alive at 25' course is free, and if offered almost every month.

"It's a four-hour class, so it's pretty intensive," he said. "We watch some videos and then have discussions where each driver shares their driving experiences. If I could get this in front of every young driver, I think it would make a tremendous difference, but it's just not practical to do that on a one-on-one basis, so this classroom format seems to work out pretty well."

Templeton said he wishes every young driver could accompany him and see what troopers experience on a day-to-day basis, but the 'Alive at 25' program is the most practical way to impart the knowledge necessary to be a safe driver..past the age of 25.

To sign up for the program, contact the Missoula office of the Montana Highway Patrol at 329-1500.

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