ANDOVER, Minn. — We all know that for many teens, getting a driver's license is a rite of passage.
Typically, the only roadblock standing between your teen and the open road is a test. But this year, the test is happening before teens even hit the road.
Heidi Sanders's daughter Makenna knows that all too well. She was so close to teenage freedom before her journey was stopped by something out of her control.
There's a shortage of Driver's Ed teachers at many metro-area high schools.
Makenna's high school told her she would have to wait two to three months before getting behind-the-wheel practice.
Students in similar situations are pumping the brakes on practicing.
"She's like, 'We've been doing this for a year.' And I was like 'Yeah, I know, I get it,'" said Sanders.
But Makenna's mom Heidi was determined to help her daughter get the independence she's been craving. So she took a different route.
Her detour led her to Ryan Hammett. He owns Safety and Respect Driving School in Andover. Hammett says the instructor shortage could be here to stay.
"The hiring process can be difficult," said Hammett. "We do have to license them through the state. So they have to take a series of tests to become an instructor."
But independently owned driving schools like Hammett's might be the key to turning this situation around. The number of transfer students flocking to sign up is proof.
"Normally, we would see 15 to 20 in a year. Now we're seeing that within just a month," said Hammett.
Parents like Heidi are now one step closer to passing over the keys. And students like Makenna are one step closer to their rite of passage.
There are five instructors at Safety and Respect Driving School, so it will take about two weeks to get in for lessons, which Hammett says is normal.
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