Curbing the teen driver (5×8 – 8/14/12)

Should there be more restrictions on teen drivers, end of the golden era of food trucks, llamas 101, the paradox of the close call, some kids are smarter than others, and the great bike helmet debate of 2012.


Only a few topics inspire a more impassioned debate at the Capitol than the occasional bill that curbs driving privileges, especially for teenagers.

But more and more states are passing laws that restrict when young people can drive. In Minnesota, for example, teens can’t drive with more than one other young person in the car for the first six months of their driving career. “Kids won’t be able to double-date in a car – won’t be able to go to prom,” said Sen. David Tomassoni, DFL-Chisholm, complained when the bill was passed in the Senate.

Minnesota also has a curfew, as most other states now do. North Dakota was the last state to pass graduated driver’s licenses for kids.

Some states want more, the New York Times reports today. In New Jersey, for example, lawmakers want decals — a whiskey plate for kids — for cars driven by kids under 18 in order to make it easier for cops to identify drivers who may be out after curfew.

“We have young people flying Apache helicopters in Afghanistan to protect us; you’re saying you can’t drive a car past 11?” one parent said. His challenge was turned aside by a court. He’s told his daughter not to use the decals because he insists they could attract sexual predators. (By the way, are there a lot of people under 18 flying Apache helicopters in Afghanistan?)

Others want the state’s restrictions extended to age 21 or age 25.

In Minnesota in 2011, 15-19 year old drivers were in crashes at the rate of 51.4 per 1,000. In 2005, it was 74 per 1,000, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.


Food trucks in the Twin Cities have been a terrific way for start-up chefs to bring their treasures to the people at a reasonable price and with a convenient method. Nothing good can last forever, judging by this story from Autoblog. The big restaurant chains are getting into the food-truck business. Well, swell.

Some of the big chains see their trucks as supplementary to their brick and mortar stores, while others use their vittle-vans as mobile test kitchens. Sizzler, for example, uses an electronic menu on its truck because its offerings changed so frequently. Some items proved so popular that the steak chain incorporated them into their regular menu.

So is this the beginning of road-going restaurants? Or the beginning of the end for what was for a bit a fun little trend? Adweek’s story points out that some people theorize that food trucks will become as ubiquitous as mobile phones. When first introduced, mobiles were novelties, but soon evolved to replace land lines.

(h/t: Steve Seel)

3) LLAMAS 101

Don’t mess with llamas, people. MPR’s Molly Bloom visited a man who has deployed “guard llamas” in Park Rapids. It’s a cute story and all, but it sure makes Park Rapids sound like a not-fun place what with drug and crime problems and all.

He should dress them up as security guards, though…

It never gets old.


If you have a close call, are you lucky? Probability wise, near misses aren’t successes,’s Weird Science writes today. “They are indicators of near failure. And if the flaw is systemic, it requires only a small twist of fate for the next incident to result in disaster. Rather than celebrating then ignoring close calls, we should be learning from them and doing our very best to prevent their recurrence. But we often don’t.”


This beauty from Boyd Huppert brings back memories of the time my high school girlfriend and I rented an ice cream truck one summer day to make a few bucks. The day came and so did winter, apparently — 50 degree days in July are not conducive to ice cream sales. We paid for the ice cream up front.

Breanna Simon was smarter about it...

Bonus I: Mankato’s City Council voted last night to oppose the same-sex marriage ban amendment. (Mankato Free Press)

Citizens Voice Opinion at Gay Marriage Public Hearing from Mankato Free Press on Vimeo.

MPR’s Sasha Aslanian reports that a third group has emerged in the debate before city councils in Minnesota: People who think it’s none of a city council’s business.

Bonus II: The great Minnesota bike helmet debate of 2012 continues.

Related: What exactly can a $20,000 bike do that a $400 one can’t?


A new study in the journal Pediatrics finds that adolescents in states that sharply restrict access to food vending machines, snack bars and sugar-based drinks in public schools gain less weight than those in states without such restrictions. Today’s Question: Should public schools further restrict the sale of unhealthy food and beverages?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Politics and the single woman.

Second hour: Anxiety disorders.

Third hour: How bad is the robo-signing problem in mortgage foreclosures?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): David Brooks speaks to the Aspen Ideas Festival about character, achievement and leadership.

Talk of the Nation (1-2 p.m.) – TBA

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Identifying holes in the new air traffic system so the government can plug them. The nation’s air traffic control system is undergoing a multi-billion-dollar,

high-tech upgrade. With just $2,000, some hackers have already found a way around its security. NPR will report.