St. James police officer Hoyt Peterson visited the driver’s education class taught by Brian Bluedorn at St. James High School last week.
There are approximately 75 students taking drivers education this fall. According to Bluedorn, most of them are freshmen. Driver’s education is not required, unless a teenager wants to drive before 18, which means it is mandatory for most teenagers. At least if a youngster wants to drive legally.
Officer Peterson was answering questions submitted by the students. One was about what was the youngest age driver the officer had pulled over. That was age 12. I guess that youngster hadn’t taken driver’s ed to realize he was too young to drive.
There were practical questions like can you drive and eat at the same time. The answer is no. That’s a point many adults seem to have forgotten from their driver’s education.
How fast had Peterson driven? The answer was 130 mph, so readers should not think they can outrun those police cruisers.
Had he ever fired his gun in the line of duty? Thankfully no, but he had tazed someone and had been tazed as part of training. Being tazed was not fun according to the St James officer.
So the questions covered a wide range of topics concerning more than just the dos and don’ts of driving, but how the police force interacts with the community and on aspects of police work.
The students also had Jacalyn Sticha from the Minnesota State Patrol out of Mankato speak to the class. Officer Sticha occasionally writes articles that appear in the Plaindealer.
The requirements of driver’s education are 30 hours of classroom instruction. Traffic laws, road signs, sharing the road, the dangers of impaired and distracted driving and more are covered.
Once a student passes the state test to get their permit they take six hours of in-car instruction.
A driver’s education teacher is going to have some good stories to tell. That’s the case with Bluedorn, “This summer I was with students on a two lane highway and I reminded the driver to scan the ditches for anything moving.
“Within 10 seconds of my reminder, a deer ran across the road in front of us. The driver braked, and it was not a close call but it appeared as if I knew the deer was going to be there because it ran in front of us within seconds of my warning.”
Page 2 of 2 - What Bluedorn likes about teaching driver’s education is, “The best part about teaching driver's education is that you get the best effort, attitude and concentration out of almost all of the kids.
“I also teach Social Studies and sometimes you know that it is not a student’s favorite subject or they are taking a required class.
“Motivation is rarely an issue in classroom or behind the wheel.”