In this time of social distancing, Parent Nights have been canceled. However, we have posted the Parent Night Presentation here. The presentation is available in three formats:

  1. Original PowerPoint Presentation (30 MB)
  2. PDF version of the Presentation (1.5 MB)
  3. The following text, which is a transcript from the original PowerPoint.

The following is the text which accompanies the Parent Night presentation.

Slide 1

Hello and welcome to our Driver Education presentation from Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. This is designed to give parents and students some information on our program and the process involved in registering for the classroom and taking the permit test and doing behind the wheel (BTW) culminating in the completion and the road test that you will take to get your actual driving license.

Slide 2

“We don’t ask teenagers learning the piano to take 30 hours of classroom instruction and then 6 hours of practice and expect them to perform at Carnegie Hall. That's essentially what we’ve done with young drivers.” Patricia Waller, Director, University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute.

The most important part of our brain is the frontal lobe. It monitors motor skills and emotional maturity. Lack of development can explain an increased desire to take risks and the inability to perform complex maneuvers.

At what age is the teenage brain fully developed? The teen brain is not fully developed until at least age twenty-five. When adults reach age 20, white matter begins to spread from the back of the brain forward, usually completing this process between 25 and 30 years of age. The section of the brain most responsible for driving skills is the frontal, which manages the body’s motor skills, emotional maturity and the aversion to taking risks. A dearth of white matter here explains why teenagers are much more likely to speed, disobey traffic signs and lose control of their vehicles. The White Matter Revelation has led some safety experts to suggest raising the minimum driving age to eighteen, while other have said that this is an unnecessary change that would place an un-do burden on parents. What is more common is the push for the implementation of the stricter GDL licensing laws, which has a multi-tiered licensing system to ease teenagers into the driving task. Wisconsin does have a GDL licensing law, which begins with their permit, in which you as parents are the ones observing them, making sure they are make good judgement as they’re driving, giving them good tips, modeling good behavior, giving them that one-on-one that they need to have before they get their actual license. And it is a probationary license. There are restrictions on it. You as a parent get to tell them when they can come and when they can go and there are state specifics on that probationary license before they can be given a full license in Wisconsin.

Is the frontal lobe of the brain necessary for driving? Absolutely Yes! Adults use the prefrontal cortex of the brain, which is the rational part of the brain, while driving. So you know there is hope for that teenager who is an absolutely delightful person at fifteen-fifteen and a half. It is an exciting time in their life. And the good thing is, eventually they will become a good skilled driver, but it takes time and it takes a lot of involvement between you and your student, so enjoy this part of your student’s life. It’s a fun time for both of you. You get to see them develop into really great drivers and it is a good review for some of your skills, so have some fun with this.

Slide 3

One teen and one passenger double the fatality risk in 16-19 year olds. One passenger doubles the risk. Three or more quadruples it.

Slide 4

Lack of driving experience increases the risk factor in teens. Crashes drop sharply after six months and a thousand miles of licensure, but teens still have twice the risk then adults until they reach the age of twenty-five. So as you can see the inexperience raises their risk and as they get more experience that risk decreases. Again supervision, lots of practice and hopefully, your teenager will make it through until they have the ability and experience to decrease that risk that they have right now.

Slide 5

Our mission at Southwest Tech in Driver Education is to equip students with the knowledge and thought processes to enable them to make wise decisions as drivers. In addition, to help students acquire the insight and motivations needed to become responsible users of the Highway Transportation System. It is extremely important as a parent that you involve yourself completely from the point where they enter the classroom, get their permit, do their driving with you and with our instructor and beyond. Practice, practice, practice is so very important and that you remain patient, support them and guide them through this very, very crucial skill, so that they do become safe and responsible drivers.

Slide 6

Just some of the basics regarding our program:

  • Students have to be 15 years of age or older to enroll in the classroom phase of Driver Education, which consists of 30 hours of mandatory attendance.
  • Students must be 15.5 years of age to receive their permit.
  • Students must register and pay for both classroom and behind the wheel before the course begins and before a permit application is given or mailed to the student. We do give the permit test in our classrooms, however, if your student decides to go to the DMV for their permit test, then they would be given their permit application to take to the DMV for the actual test and then when they pass that test, they would be given their permit. Students who elect to take the permit test in the classroom will be allowed to do that before they turn 15.5, however, that permit application will be held by the Instructor until they reach 15.5 years of age and have paid that BTW fee. When you do go to the DMV with the signed permit application you as a sponsor/parent will also need to bring a certified copy of their birth certificate and their social security card and then you will notarize your signature when you get to the DMV, because the examiners are all Notaries.

Once that student has the permit, they are legal to drive with you and they will then begin their BTW instruction. BTW instruction is done in pairs to allow one student to drive while the other observes and then the process is reversed for the second hour until both students have received their required 6 hours.

Scheduling is done between the student and the instructor and the availability of both. Any violation of laws while they are on their permit will result in a revocation of that permit or additional days that it must be held before taking a licensed test. That permit must be held for at least six months prior to scheduling their road test. There is more information available on our website. You can see it on the screen and if you click on that, it will direct you right to the Driver Education page. There is information about that as well.

Once they’ve completed both the classroom and the BTW, I will submit a completion certificate electronically directly to the DMV and when that road test is scheduled and your student shows up for that road test, that information will be available for them right there at the DMV.

Slide 7

Just some additional information here entitled Rights and Responsibilities. Auto insurance: parents have sometimes asked me how that works with their student. They are covered at no cost while they are on their permit phase of driving and they are covered under the Southwest Tech insurance while they are taking instructions. However, once they get their license your insurance company will need to be notified and your rates will be adjusted depending on the make, model and age of the vehicle that you’re going to be assigning your student to drive, until the age of 25 when those rates then begin to drop.

Permit restrictions:

  • A driver under 18 may only drive when accompanied by a person with two years driving experience who holds a valid regular license, it cannot be a probationary or occupational license and who sits in the front passenger seat and is one of the following:
    • A qualified instructor, 19 years old or older, up to three people may ride in the vehicle if it is equipped with dual controls.
    • A parent or legal guardian or spouse, 19 years old or older; immediate family members may ride in the back seat.
    • A person, 21 or older; this person must be designated in writing by a parent or legal guardian prior to accompanying the teenage driver.

The Probationary License:

  • Is for an applicant under the age of 18. You have to hold your permit for a minimum of six months before applying for that license.
  • Be violation free in the six months prior to applying for that probationary license.
  • Accumulate a minimum of 30 hours of BTW driving experience; ten of those should be driving at night and documented on your driving log.
  • Present proof of the completion of your course, Driver Education Course, which would be the completion certificate that I would be submitting electronically, and have your parent or adult sponsor certify on the application when you are signing that you had done those thirty 30 hours of driving.
  • You pass your road test and you pay the necessary fees.

There are restrictions on that probationary license:

  • You have to, from 5am to midnight, you can drive alone and go anywhere.
  • Any number of immediate family members can ride along as well as one of the following:
    • A person who holds valid regular license with at least two years’ experience and one other person.
  • From midnight to 5am, you may only drive alone if driving between home, school or work. The same people listed above, that I mentioned, can ride along, too. If you are driving anywhere else, one of the following must be seated in the front passenger seat:
    • a parent or legal guardian,
    • one person who has a valid regular license with two years of driving experience and any number of the driver’s immediate family members and one other person my ride along.
  • Your restriction will be extended 6 months, so they’ll add another 6 months on to that probationary license, if you’re convicted of a moving violation or you violate any of the restrictions or your license is suspended or revoked for any reason.

Slide 8

I put this slide in as a way of directing you to the Department of Transportation website. They have a very nice section for teens and for parents. If you click on these links, the black arrows, where it says Teens and Parents, those are hyperlinked to those particular sites. You will find a whole lot of great information on what you as parents are frequently asked in responsibilities and for your teenager, frequently asked questions. There’s a whole bunch of information there that will lead them through some of the questions that they might have, in reference to getting their driving license.

Slide 9

These next two slides list the names of our instructors, what schools they are responsible for, their email address and their phone number, which you can use to contact them. Starting at the top we have:

  • Mr. Bucky Boland, he’s our Instructor for both Classroom and BTW at Iowa-Grant. He also does the Highland Classroom.
  • Mrs. Molly Bowden is the Instructor for both Classroom and BTW at Benton HS. She also helps out for Southwestern BTW.
  • Mr. Kyle Kinney is our Instructor for the Barneveld Classroom and he does the Fennimore BTW.
  • Mr. Thomas Koeller is our Instructor for Southwestern HS, both Classroom and BTW.

Slide 10

  • Mr. Duane Leeser is our Instructor for Lancaster HS Classroom and BTW.
  • Mr. John Moran is our Instructor for Boscobel Classroom and BTW.
  • Ms. Michelle Quick is a brand new Instructor, she is going to be working with River Ridge Classroom and BTW. She will also be doing BTW for Cassville, some Lancaster and PdC students who take our online course. 
  • Mr. Andrew Riechers is our Instructor for Dodgeville Classroom and BTW.
  • Mr. Brian Reuter is our Instructor for the Platteville Classroom and the Mineral Point BTW.
  • Mr. Quinn Schultz is instructing at the Mineral Point Classroom.
  • Ms. Mary Ann Shurson is our Instructor for Platteville BTW.
  • Mr. Dan Smith is our Instructor for Platteville and Highland BTW.
  • Mr. Bob Summers is our Instructor for Cuba City HS Classroom and BTW.
  • Mr. Mike Uppena is our Instructor for Potosi BTW.

Slide 11

For teens to become safe, competent drivers they need to develop critical driving skills and practice them in a range of driving environments and conditions. Passing the On-road test, which tests the basic operation of the vehicle, does not mean that new drivers have the skills to avoid crashes. To develop these skills, they need to practice, practice and then practice some more with a parent or another responsible adult in the passenger seat.

The biggest reason that teen drivers crash is that they don’t have a lot of supervised practice driving hours and they don’t have time to concentrate on 3 of the big reasons why they do crash, which is not anticipating and scanning for hazards, poor speed management and being distracted.

When you are behind the wheel with your student under the permit requirements try to focus on these three reasons:

  • Scanning the road while they are driving. New drivers tend to look straight ahead while they are driving instead of scanning further ahead and to the sides of the car. This explains why the common type of crash for teens involve running off the road. If you are only looking straight ahead, even a curve is going to look straight. So help your teen to keep their eyes just not on the car in the road in front of them, but also what is going on all around. Look for crosswalks and hidden driveways.
  • Keeping their speed, managing their speed. New drivers tend to have a difficult time managing their speed, which means that teaching your teen how to manipulate the brake and accelerator properly to reduce speed, instead of saying slow down, during a practice drive, say, ‘We are approaching an intersection, so it’s time to ease up on the gas pedal, which will slow us down, and then push your brake pedal down.”
  • Make sure that they are driving mindfully. We know that multitasking like texting and talking on the phone, playing with the radio is dangerous, but not all distracted driving involves technology. If your brain is thinking about anything other than driving, it is multitasking which makes it difficult to react during a potential crash.

Through your words and your actions, you can teach your young driver to put the electronics in the glove compartment, always put on their seatbelt, take a deep breath each time they sit behind the wheel. You should also think about the responsibility of driving, about where they are going and set aside any distracting thoughts. All before they even turn on that key. And the most important part is to stay involved. No matter what, it’s up to the parents to stay involved when it comes to teen driver’s safety. You can cut your teen’s crash risk in half by staying involved, setting rules and being very supportive.

Parents, keep in mind that driving is a privilege, not a rite of passage. Only you know for sure when your child’s ready to drive alone, without parental supervision. Setting those house rules around driving with the GDL laws as a guide is very important. GDL programs are proven to be the most effective strategy to reduce teen driver related crashes. They provide a stepped approach to gradually easing and increasing driving privileges as a new driver gains experience and less risky conditions. The most important part is to be very safe.

Slide 12

Thank you so much for watching and listening to this presentation. My information is here on the slide. If you have any questions or comments, please give me a call at either number or send me an email.