- Associated Press - Friday, February 13, 2015

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - A concrete monument to a teenager’s rite of passage - and vehicular right of way - has been demolished at the school district’s Seacrest Field in Lincoln.

The old tower for driver’s education instructors has made way for new bleachers and an expanded press box.

The tower hasn’t been used in more than three decades, the Lincoln Journal Star reported (https://bit.ly/1vI0WMG ). In its heyday, the tower held instructors who could - in elevated safety - watch a dozen cars and use one-way radios to train the fledgling drivers.

“They could only hear us (through their radios), not talk back to us,” said former instructor Bob Eyth. “We always said the one word you need to understand right off the bat, and that’s stop.”

With state financial support, 70 to 75 percent of the state’s high school students took the courses, said Fred Zwonechek, director of the Nebraska Office of Highway Safety. But in the mid-1980s the state stopped reimbursing schools for the instruction, so most districts stopped the courses, and the percentage has dropped.

Private instruction has replaced the school courses to some extent. Nebraska Department of Motor Vehicles records say 53 percent of the state’s new drivers over the past five years have taken driver’s education.

There are incentives for parents to pay private instructors. For example, many insurance companies offer discounts for teens who have taken driver’s education. And Zwonechek said a study of Nebraska’s teen drivers showed that those who took driver’s education were less likely to have accidents and significantly less likely to get tickets within their first years of having licenses.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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