School Extra by Bob Zimmerman

Back in the 70’s, a friend of mine worked as a driving in- structor at Sister Kenney Insti- tute in Minneapolis. His clients all had some type of disability and part of Dave’s job was to determine if a person had the physical and mental abilities required to safely operate a motor vehicle. One of Dave’s favorite experiences involved an older gentleman who was dealing with the effects of a stroke. Driving simulators had not been invented yet, so Dave was out in traffic with his client to assess abilities. It took just a few minutes to determine that driving was not an option for this person with his current limitations. Dave said “OK George, I have enough information. Please drive back to the parking lot where we started.” George turned to Dave and replied “Oh, I thought you were driving.”

Mr. Bakeberg, Driving Instructor for Maple Lake High School has given driving lessons to about 2,000 students in the 31 years of full time Driver’s Ed he has completed and he noted there have been no collisions in the 18,000 hours he has spent in behind the wheel training. He also commented that he is now teaching the grandchildren of some of his first students. When I shared my friend’s story with Mr. Bakeberg, he chuckled and then told me about the three students who fell asleep behind the wheel during their lessons and also shared his scariest moment.

While driving towards Monticello on 25 a student drifted right and hit the rumble strip, overcorrected and hit the rumble strip in the center of the road and then stood on the brakes to bring the car to a screeching panic stop in a cloud of smoke just short of the ditch. Luckily, no one was on the road ahead or behind them and there were no injuries in what could have been a disaster.

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