Private driving schools offer options

"Dan Crook believes he is offering the best investment parents can make for their teenagers. As owner and instructor of Silverdale's Northwest Driving School, Crook believes he can save your teenager's life and perhaps someone else's as well.It's the most important investment one can make, Crook said. We are dealing with these young people's lives and our own. It is something that should be taken way more serious than a dollar.With students preparing to head back to school next week, Crook is cranking up to teach them how to drive. His Northwest Driving School, along with other Kitsap driver's ed providers, offer an alternative to classes offered by area school districts.Crook said he aims to teach teenagers how to drive safely in the modern world. He hopes the class time, mixed with behind-the-wheel experience, will give teenagers the edge they need to stay out of trouble.We teach them to be responsible, Crook said.Apparently, the state thinks teenagers needs to take more responsibility as well. State laws that already require adolescent drivers take drivers education are due to get more stringent next year. Starting in July 2001, adolescent drivers will be required to log 50 hours of driving time (documented by a parent-signed affidavit) before they get their licenses. New regulations also will limit how late in the evening teens may drive and how many passengers they may chauffeur.But no matter how many regulations there are, driving instructors insist practice and instruction are the only ways to make the roads truly safe.Inexperience is inexperience, said Mike Cassidy, co-owner of Diamond Driving School. The sooner they get started, the better off they are.Cassidy said time is the key. Since Washington teens can get their instructional permits at 15, Cassidy suggests parents get their kids into driver's ed classes early and spend as much time in the car with their kids as they can.It's hard to tell a kid once they have their license that they are only going to be riding with me, Cassidy said.Although climbing into a car with a teenager might seem like one of the least relaxing things one can do, Crook said he would ride with a kid any time.It's one of the most rewarding things I have done, Crook said. It's great to see them driving up the roadway with confidence.Safety is not an issue, either. Contrary to popular belief, Crook said teenage drivers are very attentive and lack the annoying habits experienced drivers tend to have.I'd rather ride with a 15 year old with a permit than ride with you, Crook said.The summer peak time is over, but both schools offer classes throughout the year that work around school schedules. The schools are willing to do anything to provide a service to anyone who knows what it's like on the roads these days.We are going to be sharing the road with these teenagers, Crook said. They need instruction. "

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