Minnesota’s Driver Education Program Aims To Involve Parents

A new Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) and Office of Traffic Safety education program is focusing on the parents of teen drivers, seeking to instill the important role they play in developing safer teen drivers. The program comes after a series of accidents caused by young, inexperienced drivers in Minnesota.

The Point of Impact program will be made available to communities and driver’s education schools statewide with the primary purpose to bring parents into the driver’s education classroom with their teens for a one-night course.

The program is presented by local law enforcement officers, EMTs and driver’s education instructors among others. An eight-minute video that presents stories of Minnesotans impacted by crashes that involved teen drivers is the main component of the program. The video consists of a young woman from Detroit Lakes who suffered a serious brain injury; a woman left paralyzed from a crash years ago when she was 15 years old; and a Mankato police officer whose father was seriously injured in a crash involving a teen asleep at the wheel.

The video can be watched here: http://youtu.be/jOkVMa3g5gQ.

“We need to break the mindset of parents that a newly licensed teen driver is a safe driver,” says Gordy Pehrson, DPS Office of Traffic Safety youth driving programs coordinator. “The Point of Impact program educates parents that the safety of their teen behind the wheel is up to them. Our goal is to make parents aware that while it may be convenient for their teen to drive themselves, that convenience can’t be put ahead of safety.”

According to Herald Review, among the key points Point of Impact stresses are for parents to:

  • Provide significant supervised driving training, and continue to do so after they are licensed, especially during the potentially dangerous first year of licensure.
  • Train teen on a variety of road types (city, highway, rural) and conditions (night, snow, rain).
  • Reinforce teen driving laws such as belt use (front and back seats); passenger and nighttime driving limitations; no cell phone use; and no texting/email/Web access (including when stopped in traffic).
  • Use a driving contract to set family driving rules and follow through with consequences.
  • Encourage teen to speak up when they feel unsafe in a vehicle to stop unsafe driving behaviors.

According to HometownSource, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) comprises 11 divisions where 2,100 employees operate programs in the areas of law enforcement, crime victim assistance, traffic safety, alcohol and gambling, emergency communications, fire safety, pipeline safety, driver licensing, vehicle registration and emergency management. DPS activity is anchored by three core principles: education, enforcement and prevention.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) designs, implements and coordinates federally funded traffic safety enforcement and education programs to improve driver behaviors and reduce the deaths and serious injuries that occur on Minnesota roads. OTS also administers state funds for the motorcycle safety program and for the child seats for needy families program.