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Vogt's Notes: Take opportunity to attend Teen Driver Safety Seminar in Baxter

Most parents long for that day when their teen turns 16 and finally gets a driver's license. But when that day actually arrives, a whole new set of worries pours in. It's not easy watching your teen set off that first time behind the wheel on the...

Most parents long for that day when their teen turns 16 and finally gets a driver's license.

But when that day actually arrives, a whole new set of worries pours in. It's not easy watching your teen set off that first time behind the wheel on their own. And several years later it's still worrisome.

Will they take to heart your mantra not to text and drive? Will they pay attention to road conditions, especially when there's ice and snow or rain or bright sunshine? Will they concentrate on their driving more than on what's going on with friends in the car?

Do they even hear you anymore when your final words every time they go out the door are, "Love you - drive carefully"?

Each of my teens has a speeding ticket and a fender bender on their driving resumes. Thankfully, no one was ever hurt.

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Both of my teens also attended an annual Teen Driver Safety Seminar with me, and I encourage parents of all new drivers or drivers to be to attend this year's session at 5 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 26, at the Brenny Funeral Chapel Community Room in Baxter.

The free seminar offers practical tips and information about key Minnesota legislation affecting teen drivers as well as other teen driving issues, like aggressive and distracted driving or the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (prescription or illegal).

Guest speakers from the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Department and North Memorial Ambulance will speak, as will Luke Jordan, whose brother was killed in an alcohol-related crash.

I have to admit I probably got more out of these seminars than my teens did, but I'm hoping at least a bit of the information sunk in. Annie Bahr, a former resident who was convicted of DWI after her friend, Jackie Saddler, was killed in a car accident after they'd attended a party and Bahr was driving, and Denise Saddler, Jackie's mom, both spoke at one of the seminars I attended, and it was powerful. I'm sure Jordan will have a strong message as well.

Advance registration is necessary. Anyone interested in attending should contact Sara Pusc at 218-454-2970 or sarap@baxterinsurancegroup.com , or Leslie Rowland at 218-454-2971 or leslier@baxterinsurancegroup.com .

Being the parent of teen drivers, I have to applaud the 2014 Minnesota Legislature for passing a graduated driver licensing law that became effective this year. The new law requires driver education programs to offer a 90-minute class for parents of teens obtaining their instruction permits and provisional driver's licenses.

This class will provide information regarding teen driving risks, teen driving laws and adult influences on teen driver behaviors. The new law also requires that students under the age of 18 submit a supervised driving log to the driver exam staff at the time of the road test for the provisional driver's license. The log must verify the student completed 50 hours of supervised driving time, 15 of which must be nighttime hours.

If a parent/guardian completes the parent class and submits a certificate of completion to the driver exam staff at the time of the road test, or if it was submitted when applying for an instruction permit, 40 hours of supervised driving time are required, 15 of which must be nighttime hours.

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These requirements can only help our teens, and maybe us adults as well, become safer drivers.

Opinion by Nancy Vogt
Nancy Vogt is editor of the Pineandlakes Echo Journal, a weekly newspaper that covers eight communities in the Pequot Lakes-Pine River areas - from Nisswa to Hackensack and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake.

She started as editor of the Lake Country Echo in July 2006, and continued in that role when the Lake Country Echo and the Pine River Journal combined in September 2013 to become the Pineandlakes Echo Journal. She worked for the Brainerd Dispatch from 1992-2006 in various roles.

She covers Nisswa, Pequot Lakes, Lake Shore and Crosslake city councils, as well as writes feature stories, news stories and personal columns (Vogt's Notes). She also takes photos at community events.

Contact her at nancy.vogt@pineandlakes.com or 218-855-5877 with story ideas or questions. Be sure to leave a voicemail message!
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