limaohio.com

Jim Krumel: Taking the talking out of driver’s ed

August 13, 2012

People can go online and order their dinners, buy tires for their cars, print photos, attend college and hook up with a hot date.



Now, we hear Ohio lawmakers are looking at the possibility of letting teenagers take driver’s education courses online instead of in classrooms. My first reaction — yikes! Are we really ready to let some computer tell us that it’s cool for Alex to punch the pedal to the metal?



It may be hard to argue against it, however. Think about it. If someone can go online and receive a college degree that allows them to land a job on Wall Street, shouldn’t a teenager be allowed to use a cellphone to learn the finer points of zipping down Interstate 75?



OK, maybe not such a good example.



I could point out that only 15 states allow students to complete a driver’s education class online, but then I would have to acknowledge that only 26 states require driver’s education. As for the other 24 states, they evidently just toss the keys to teens and tell them to take a spin.



Right now, Ohio requires teens younger than 18 to have 24 hours of instruction in the classroom, eight hours behind the wheel with instructors, and 50 hours practice (at least 10 hours nighttime) with an adult.



Republican state Sen. Tom Patton, of Strongsville, said that allowing online courses in place of classroom work would offer families a cheaper, more flexible alternative to traditional driver’s education. (I can buy into that argument.)



Not surprisingly, driving school instructors are opposed to the change. They say it would create more opportunity for cheating (I buy this argument, too.). They also point out it could hurt their business. (Ahem, have you ever heard of free enterprise?)



A former student told The Associated Press that driver’s education classes offered opportunities for learning that the Internet cannot.



“You were able to bounce ideas off of other people, there were people around that could help you and then other people would bring in new ideas that you didn’t think of,” teen driver Anthony Mirville, of Columbus, said. (Tony gets an A for that answer).



With so many things being done online now, perhaps driver’s education training should be among them.



I’ll be interested in hearing the discussion that takes place among Ohio’s lawmakers. They can pass it along by email, Facebook or Twitter. Please avoid using the telephone. That would mean having to hold a conversation. And who would actually want to do that?



ROSES AND THORNS: A naked woman makes her way into the rose garden this week.



Rose: To Carolyn LaRue and Sandy Selvaggio, of American Coin Laundry in Lima. Reader Nancy Hustak praised them for “going well above and beyond the call of duty” in helping her meet a vacation deadline.



Rose: To Hope White, 34, of Lima. She sang the national anthem this summer outside Nationwide Arena in Columbus to kick off the city’s Red White and Boom Fourth of July celebration.



Rose: Michelle Cardone, a member of Richland Manor in Bluffton, had her dream of going to a beach this summer fulfilled when staff members made special arrangements to take her to Ottawa Metro Park Lake in Lima.



Rose: To Carlos Suarez, the 19-year-old Lima boxer who competed in the Olympics under the flag of his mother’s native land, Trinidad. While he was eliminated after losing his first bout, he captured the hearts of British fans who gave him a standing ovation for his grittiness.



Rose: To Bambi Markham, who has retired after 19 years with the West Ohio Food Bank.



Rose: To Sondra Dreitzler, of Cridersville, and Linda Sommer, of Bluffton, who recently had their idea featured in the nationally syndicated comic strip, “Pluggers.”



Rose: To Robert K. Sloane, 76, a 1953 graduate of Lima Central High School, who was honored at the White House for his work on city planning projects in the Boston area.



Thorn: A woman who walks naked around her North Cole Street apartment with her window blinds open complained to police officers that she received a handwritten note from a teenage neighbor boy saying he enjoyed the view and would like to speak with her.



Thorn: More people seemed to be outraged about a Mercer County sheriff’s deputy leaving a police dog in his squad car during sweltering conditions than they were when a Lima woman left a baby in her car under similar conditions.



PARTING SHOT: If a word in a dictionary were misspelled, how would we know?