SIOUX CITY, Iowa (KCAU) – While many Siouxland students are relaxing over their summer break, some students are working to improve their driving skill. Kids in drivers education courses are spending their summer behind the wheel and back in the classroom, getting one step closer to their driver’s license.
Students around Siouxland are spending four weeks of their summer in a traffic education course through the Sioux City Public School district. Learning the rules of the road is an age-old right of passage many people have taken the class in order to get their drivers license. However, today students drivers have some different tools to work with inside the vehicles.
“Technology is great and its also distracting in ways,” said Traffic Education Coordinator John Torno.
From back up cameras to Bluetooth speakers and even parking assistance, new drivers have access to a vast amount of technology that can help them learn how to drive.
“If you use them as a tool to enhance what you’re doing it works wonderful and we encourage students to take advantage of the things that the cars offer to help you out but don’t let it replace or disadvantage your skills,” said Torno.
John Torno has been teaching this course for over two decades and he said while technology may be changing he believes successful driving is all about learning the basics.
“Embrace the technology in vehicles but to remind student it’s not here to replace your skills. It’s here to enhance your skills,” said Torno.
“When I’m driving around I get more relaxed but its when other drivers are like around me that I get nervous because I don’t know what they’re going to do,” student Brooklyn Schrock.
Brooklyn Schrock is a sophomore in the Sioux City public school district, and she has some of the same fears new drivers have always experienced.
“I was kinda nervous to take drivers ed because I was scared to drive,” said Schrock.
But unlike many years ago these student drivers have a new and dangerous distraction that is always in their hands.
“My parents are really big on it like they don’t even want me to phone in my car when I’m driving but I’ve told them I won’t text and drive,” said Schrock.
Distracted driving is a leading cause of death for young teen drivers each year.
It’s why instructor Torno has all of the students put their phones in the trunk before they get into the car. It’s a habit he hopes his students will continue when they’re out on their own.
“This course has been a great opportunity I’m just really excited to drive on my own,” said Schrock.
Here in Iowa, the state law now requires all drivers to take a traffic education class before they can get their license. Siouxlanders can take a course through the school district, Western Iowa tech or through a private instructor.
As those student drivers are getting behind the wheel for the first time, they can pose a risk to other drivers.
Student learners are more likely to make mistakes out on the roadways, whether it’s due to nervousness or just inexperience. The student driver stickers help other drivers on the road identify new drivers. Seasoned drivers can help new drivers by being cautious around their vehicles.
“But then especially when you see a student driver sticker on a car that’s when you really need to be patient. because they may do something in that car an experienced drive wouldn’t so just giving them a little bit of extra time,” said Andrew Dutler with the Sioux City Police Department.
Drivers can also set a good example for students on the road by obeying traffic signs and speed limits.