Pine River Parent Says Learner Driver Stickers Improved Learning Experience – Pine and Lakes Echo Journal

PINE RIVER — A column in the PineandLakes Echo Journal in early August caught the attention of two Pine River mothers.

The subject of State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow’s column was the legality of having a “Student Driver” sticker or magnet on the vehicle of students who practice driving for their license or are new to legal driving. A relative had asked if these stickers were legal.

I like it. They don’t give me the middle finger.

Tate Norman

Grabow said they were legal, but he advised the parent to consider a different sticker than the “Student Driver” stickers required on driver education cars.

While it may not be the norm, the column was about Sarah Norman, a mother of three from Pine River who has used a student driver sticker on her vehicle since her eldest, Hunter, started driving there. about two years ago.

“A friend had some for her kids,” Norman said. “When our eldest got his licence, we got one. That’s kind of where I got the idea. I think he drove with them pretty much all the time.”

Norman said on some occasions that her children drove without the stickers, she noticed a real change in the drivers around them.

You don’t want to be part of the driving lesson.

Mike Lupella

You don’t want to be part of the driving lesson

She posted in support of the idea, and it got another local parent thinking.

Melanie Lindquist has four children. Three of them haven’t gotten their driver’s license yet, and she might consider learning from Norman’s experience. She said that when her eldest was learning to drive, other motorists showed great impatience as she encountered new things and had to learn from them.

“There were only a few instances where we were in Brainerd and she was hesitant to pull into traffic,” Lindquist said. “She wasn’t sure how fast the traffic was coming and she got nervous. We had someone behind us honking her horn, which didn’t make her any better. It just made her more nervous. I just thought, if there was a sticker on our car, they’d be nicer to it.”

She even noticed how impatient other drivers were with her daughter when driving the speed limit.

Lindquist said after seeing Norman’s comment she was going to get a sticker or a magnet. But she fears that her neighbor will feel chosen to have a magnet on his car.

“I will, but I bet my next kid won’t want it on the car because that’s not normal,” Lindquist said. “Like that will make her stand out.”

I have the impression that the drivers are more patient. If I could drive with myself, I would. We have family in Iowa, so we drive there. We love having them try driving on the highway. It really is a 90 degree difference.

Sarah Norman

As for the Normans, Hunter said he liked the magnet and didn’t feel embarrassed to have it on his vehicle.

“I wasn’t embarrassed,” Hunter said. “I think that helped. I had people slowing down behind me. It’s just a warning sign. It’s definitely safer to have those, I think.”

His brother, Tate, said he also felt happy to have him on the vehicle while he learned. When driving without the sticker, he noticed that drivers around him behaved differently.

“People get mad a lot easier if I don’t have the sticker,” Tate said. “They don’t give as much space. They’re right on my tail.”

With the sticker, he noticed more patience and fewer signs of disapproval.

“I like it. They don’t finger me at all,” Tate said.

At the very least, the stickers reassure parents.

“I feel like the drivers are more patient,” Norman said. “If I could drive with myself, I would. We have family in Iowa, so we drive there. We like to have them try driving on the highway. It’s really a difference of 90 degrees. I think that gives them more space to learn without anyone on their heels. I think for young drivers it can really stress them out.

Lindquist said that in France, learner drivers are required to have a capital “A” on their vehicle identifying them as a learner driver. It’s something she would love to see at home.

“When I was in France, I was there with a foster brother and sister,” Lindquist said. “My host sister was doing driving school. We were talking about this sticker. As soon as they get their license, they actually have to have this sticker for three years, and that means so much to me. People are more careful with them, more compassionate about why they make mistakes or go a little slower.”

Norman would like all learner drivers to receive one automatically.

“I would like to see them distributed to driver education,” she said. “They’re not very expensive. I think it would be good to have on the cars.”

Mike Lupella, a driving instructor at Pine River-Backus for five years, was the instructor for Norman and Lindquist’s children. He feels that the learner driver sticker on his own instructional vehicle encourages nearby motorists to drive more carefully and demonstrate better driving habits around him.

“I hope this sticker on a relative’s car would do the same,” Lupella said. “Give people a little more following distance with a little more patience. And if they were planning on making a driving mistake, they could guess it and try to demonstrate good driving skills in front of the learner driver. ”

Lupella said one of his teaching methods is to point out driving errors and ask his students to identify what went wrong.

“You don’t want to be part of the driving lesson,” Lupella said.

As for the legality, there is at least one thing to be careful of.

Grabow said: “If you put a sign or sticker on the vehicle, make sure it is not in a windshield or window as this would be a violation of equipment and a safety issue. .”

Travis Grimler is a weekly editor for the Pineandlakes Echo Journal in Pequot Lakes/Pine River. He can be reached at 218-855-5853 or