The Free Press, Mankato, MN

November 2, 2012

RBA the only to still offer driver’s ed

By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer

MANKATO — What is the Minnesota Basic Speed Law? How long could you lose your license if you are caught driving over 100 mph? What does it mean to overdrive your headlights?

Students at RBA Public Charter School were asked these and 91 other questions on the very first day of in-class driver’s education this week. And most of them consider themselves pretty lucky to be receiving such a quiz, even if it is on day one of class.

That’s because their teacher, Todd Hanselman, reminded the kids that RBA is the only Mankato school to offer in-class driver’s ed, a fact Mankato Area Public Schools confirmed. Other students in town have to pay Mid-Southern Driving School, or another professional driving school, for the in-class and behind-the-wheel instruction, which can cost about $250 or more altogether.

“This class saves you 100 bucks, give or take,” he told the class.

Hanselman said budget cuts and insurance costs are reasons many schools no longer offer driver’s ed. But years ago Hanselman went to St. Cloud to earn the special license needed to teach the program, which he has taught at other schools, including at Mid-Southern.

The RBA class is a 38-hour program, and students can’t miss more than eight hours to get the form that allows them to begin the required six hours of behind-the-wheel training, which they get through an outside business. RBA does not provide behind-the-wheel.

The pre-quiz of 94 questions, any of which could appear on the written exam, showed the students that the test is no joke.

“You can’t get more than eight wrong,” he said. “If you get more than eight wrong, the computer shuts down and says come back.”

As a preview to what the course will entail, Hanselman quizzed the kids on a few of the questions, but he gave them a packet of information that included the answers.

What’s the difference between a yellow solid line on the road and a white solid line?

“If it’s a yellow line, it means it’s two-way traffic,” he said before the students could find the correct information. “If it’s a white line, it means you’re going the same way.”

What is the Minnesota Basic Speed Law? As student Jake Baumann and others started looking through the packet, Hanselman joked they were cheating.

“It’s not cheating; it’s using your resources,” Baumann said.

“I know, but then I can’t give you a quarter and a handshake,” Hanselman said.

The answer? No person shall drive a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the conditions.

Hanselman also stumped the students on the implied consent law, which assumes that “a person who drives, operates, or is in control of any type of motor vehicle anywhere in the state has consented to a chemical test of breath, blood or urine for the purpose of determining alcohol or controlled substances in the person’s body.” The “assumption” of consent didn’t fly with a couple of the kids.

“That’s why I, quote, love this country, unquote,” Baumann said. “Sarcasm.”

Kayla Fowler, 15, turns 16 Jan. 16. Unfortunately, she said — when factoring in the time needed to complete the in-class and behind-the-wheel training, and then wait the six months required before she can test for her license — Fowler won’t get her driver’s license until Aug. 22 at the earliest.

“I kind of am (disappointed),” she said.

But Fowler has friends who are over 16 and who drive her around. She said that’s giving her time to observe and learn.

“I pay attention to the road more,” Fowler said.