New option for driver's ed in Springfield area, instructors slammed after Mercy stopped program

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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- It's no secret for parents of teenagers-- driver's education options have been hard to find around the Springfield area.

There is a new option in town called Premier Driving Academy. It is one of only a handful of operations that do behind-the-wheel instruction.

Two law officers, one retired, one current, say they saw the need, and decided to fill it.

For the tens of thousands of teens in the Springfield and surrounding area-- it comes at a good time.

"Absolutely, it's a two ton bullet when they get behind the wheel, and if you do it wrong... wow," said former Sgt. Dan Bracker. He is passionate about safe driving. He spent 26 years patrolling the streets with the Missouri Highway Patrol, and has seen many deadly car crashes involving teens.

"They don't have the skills, most of them are immature, and they are inexperienced. Where else would we throw a 15 or 16 year old kid in a situation like that that is potentially deadly? No where," Bracker said.

In his retirement, he's now back on the road again in the passenger's seat.

"Let's just take the outer road," he told 16-year-old student driver Nick Serocki.

"We have a commentary about what you are doing... okay, I am pulling up the the red light... I've got a pedestrian on my left, a biker on my right. This person went, he should not have went... so we make them talk through it."

Serocki will take 6 one hour lessons, all behind the wheel.

Bracker and another trooper, Todd Vermillion could only find a handful of behind the wheel programs left, after Mercy shut down its program in August. So-- they decided to move forward, with buying and outfitting two cars with a passenger brake and interior and exterior cameras.

"We're recording everything going on inside that vehicle, good, bad or indifferent."

And, that video can be sent to mom.

"We want safe drivers, whether it's us or someone else, the teens need it," Bracker said.

KY3 found a few programs in the Springfield area offering driving school... including this new one, Premier Driving Academy.

They all charge about $60 per hour of driving, and offer 6 one-hour lessons per session.

Premier Driving Academy is on Facebook, or can be reached at 417-501-4464.

Springfield Driving School can be reached at 573-619-0177.

Roy Green Driving School (voicemail says he is booked up right now) can be reached at 417-773-4197. Green's voicemail offered several options listed below for instructors, too.

We also talked to Jim Pendergrass at 417-459-3553.

And another local instructor at 417-343-1064.

Few schools offer behind the wheel programs anymore, including Springfield. SPS only offers an online driving class as an elective, but no longer does behind the wheel instruction.

Click HERE for another area driving school.

Click HERE for another area driving school.