Dear Mike:

I am curious about Minnesota’s Driver Education requirements. I live in Wisconsin but have a granddaughter in the Minneapolis area. My granddaughter received her driving permit in December of 2012 and has not driven with the driver education instructor yet and this is late May. In Wisconsin the students must drive within 60 days with an instructor. What is the requirement in Minnesota? I am sure it’s a private driver education school which I know is out to make a profit but I would hope they would have some concern about the students who pay them. Thanks for any help that you can share.

– Grandpa K in Wisconsin

Hi, Grandpa K!

Thanks for getting in touch with the question about your granddaughter.

We’re always happy to hear from those trying to help a teen driver. And it’s interesting: there do seem to be a lot of grandparents worrying about the young drivers in their family. That’s great; parents are so busy & often distracted … we’re glad that it seems like the Parents-of-the-Parents are paying attention in this way!

The rules in Minnesota are different from Wisconsin, and there are lots of differences between all 50 States.

In Minnesota, a driver’s permit is good for two years, so your granddaughter has two years to complete her behind-the-wheel training, before she takes the road test. There isn’t a requirement for how soon her first driving lesson happens.

It does sound like that’s a pretty extreme delay for starting driving practice, but there could be a few explanations. Are there scheduling problems with the driving school? Does the driving school have a requirement that your granddaughter hasn’t fulfilled yet, like doing a certain amount of practice sessions with her parents, before going out with the behind-the-wheel instructor? Is your granddaughter intimidated or reluctant to start driving?

The best advice I can give you is this:

-Big picture: the more practice a novice driver gets while they have a learner’s permit, the better. Nobody becomes a good driver without experience, and the safest way to get that experience is while you are driving with a learner’s permit and have an extra set of eyes in the passenger seat because your parents are with you.

The last chapter of our “”Roadworthy”” DVD mentions the safety statistics of adult drivers, compared to learner’s permit drivers, compared to newly-licensed drivers. The numbers are really quite shocking, and they reveal a very important fact: the time when your teen is driving with a permit is VERY safe in terms of crash statistics. So make sure the parents of your granddaughter know that! Every teen driver should make the most of the time with a learner’s permit!

-Many behind-the-wheel instructors require a teen to have some time practicing driving with another adult, BEFORE the professional instructor does a session with them. There are lots of good reasons for that. In general, the more a teen improves their basic driving skills with their parents, the more the professional behind-the-wheel teacher can help them.

Sports & music are probably good comparisons for this idea. If you wanted a professional football player, or a concert violinist, to train your teenager, you’d want at least some basic skills established first. Having those individuals spend time explaining “”this is a football & you need to throw it”” or “”you need to hold the instrument against your shoulder”” would be a waste of their expertise. It would be much better to let those expert coaches finesse your teen’s skills BEYOND the basics. Good behind-the-wheel teachers can do that for their driving students.

And in all honesty, please recommend to your granddaughter’s parents that they buy “Roadworthy: A Parent’s Guide to Teaching Teens to Drive” – we absolutely, sincerely, truly guarantee that it will help them! All the explanations in that DVD are designed for regular parents who are not trained as expert driving teachers. The techniques are what I used for my own three kids, and what I use for all my students. These methods work. If they didn’t, I wouldn’t be using them. In fact, if my students were crashing at the rates that are considered “”normal,”” I would have found another line of work a long time ago.

Thanks for your question, & for being a loving & concerned Grandpa!

Mike Pehl
‘Helping Parents Create Safer Roads, One Teen at a Time””
Smarter Drivers, Safer Roads
That’s our goal.

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