Jason Schwarz, a teacher at Minot High School-Souris River Campus, has started a private commercial driving school so he can expand his area of expertise.
Through his ABC Minot Driving School, Schwarz said he will give six hours of private driving lessons, broken up into three two hour sessions. His students will gain experience in driving in Minot, in rural areas and on the interstate. Schwarz will also cover the importance of learning defensive driving, watching out for people or animals crossing the road, and avoiding distractions such as text messaging while the driver is behind the wheel.
"The landscape of Minot sure has changed," said Schwarz. "We have people from all over the country."
Jason Schwarz of the ABC Minot Driving School poses Monday with future student driver Madison Fried in the ABC Minot Driving School car.
That means some of his students may not be familiar with driving in North Dakota. Schwarz said he has noticed a lot of dangerous driving habits, such as drivers who run red lights or are texting behind the wheel. Texting while driving can now earn drivers a fine. Teenagers aren't allowed to use cell phones while they drive if they are under 18.
While most of his students are teenagers, Schwarz said he has also taken calls from people in their mid-twenties who never got around to getting their driver's licenses. Some might come from a big city where a driver's license wasn't needed because public transportation was available. Others might not have had a chance to learn how to drive because their families didn't have cars. They often need to have the driver's license for employment.
Under North Dakota law, kids can apply for a learner's permit at 14 but must hold the permit for a year before they can get a license. They are also required to have 50 hours of behind the wheel practice in variable conditions. The person teaching the student to drive must be at least 18 and have been a licensed driver for at least three years.
Schwarz said 14-year-olds are usually eager to get a permit, as are some of their parents, who look forward to the child being able to drive himself to and from places. Other kids are happy to wait to get their license and should not be rushed, said Schwarz.
"My son was like that," he said.
At 16, the student can take the driver's test if they have held a learner's permit for six months.
Schwarz said he believes the city has grown large enough to accommodate another private driving school and it is important for students to get the practice they need.
Schwarz teaches driving using a car with dual controls and dual brake and accelerator, as well as a sign indicating it is being driven by a driver in training.
For more information, call Schwarz at 500-9969 or look at the school's Facebook page under ABC Minot Driving.