Parent driven to start drivers ed class
Drivers education courses in the valley are nearly nonexistent despite the fact that in the United States, the leading cause of death among teenagers ages 16-19 is car accidents.John Johnson of Parachute wants to change that.Johnson and his wife, Dorothy, hope to start a drivers education school in September for students in the Re-2 school district. They asked the Garfield County School District No. Re-2 school board last week to support the driving school by offering a classroom for the course.During the school year, no driving program is offered in the Re-2 district.”I was amazed when I moved here two years ago that drivers education wasn’t included in Colorado school programs,” said Johnson. “I especially shuddered when I learned I had to teach my teenagers to drive.”The board chuckled at Johnson’s comment but didn’t take his request lightly.Re-2 works with a drivers education school in Grand Junction but classes are only offered in the summer.The board is concerned about facility use for the class. Before agreeing to joint use of facilities, the board wants to be assured that class enrollment for Re-2 students takes precedence over adults and students from other districts.Johnson assured the board this would be the case.Classes will be held twice a week after school for less than two hours. The class will go for 10 weeks and Johnson plans to offer a weekend class for students with conflicting schedules. Colorado students who don’t take a drivers education course can get their learning permits when they’re 16, according to the Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles.Students who take a drivers education course are eligible for permits when they’re 15.Drivers education teaches students rules of the road that students wouldn’t learn by reading a manual, Johnson said.”I think it’s a great idea,” said Natalie Wurtsmith, 18, of Glenwood. “I had to have my mom drive me all the way to Eagle for my class.”Although Wurtsmith didn’t go to an Re-2 school, she would be eligible for the course if space remained after Re-2 students enrolled.Taking drivers education increases a student’s knowledge about driving, Wurtsmith said.”I don’t know if it helped me drive because we just sat in the classroom and learned the rules,” Wurtsmith said. “But a lot of my friends don’t know where to stop at a stop sign. They stop at the sign, which isn’t right. It’s kind of funny.”Another benefit to drivers education is reduced insurance rates, Johnson said.While Wurtsmith received a discount through her insurance company, not all companies give student discounts.American Family Insurance in Rifle doesn’t offer drivers education discounts, said agent Maxine Romero.”We give a good student discount,” said Romero. “We feel that as long as a student is on the road they’re a risk. We feel that if a student has a B average, they spend more time studying than carousing in a vehicle.”Farmers Insurance in Rifle also offers a good student discount but not a drivers education discount.”It’s really good if they have a drivers education class,” said Jane Bransma, office manager for Farmers Insurance. “We really encourage kids to take drivers education.”The board will decide whether to offer facilities for the course and under what conditions to offer them at the next board meeting.Contact Ivy Vogel: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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