DES MOINES — Iowa Department of Transportation director Mark Lowe has unveiled a new free program to help parents help teen drivers.“It’s call The Parent’s Supervised Driving Program, and it’s a very simple concept. It says kids are better drivers when they spend more time with a parent or guardian. They are better drivers the more their parents engage,” Lowe explains.He says it provides a lot of tools for parents. “It creates a planned curriculum of interaction to start with simple first-time leaning experiences through much more complicated ones,”according to Lowe. There’s some very important things to us here in Iowa –like rural driving versus city and interstate driving — and it also helps them log the amount of time they are spending driving with a child to help them ensure that they are spending enough time.”He says they will offer printed materials for the program, and you can also download an app. “It seamlessly logs drive time, tracks drive time, and also pulls in information like road conditions. Whether it is daytime, nighttime, that sort of thing, to give them a complete picture, a dashboard of what their driving experience is and how that has progressed,” he says.Lowe says there is no question how important this is to creating safer drivers. “We can show through the data that when a parent is engaged with their child’s driving and instruction — they are 50 percent less likely to be involved in a crash, they are 70 percent less likely to commit and O-W-I, and they are twice as likely to wear their safety belts. And those are really important figures when you consider the number one cause of teen fatalities in the U-S are vehicle crashes,” Lowe says.Lowe says kids in Iowa getting their learner’s permit will get the program information, and it is also available online. He says you can go to their website at iowadot.gov and look for the Parent Supervised Driving program, or you can go to the Google Play store, or the App store and look for the app. You can also click here.Lowe says there are 115-thousand Iowa drivers between the ages of 14 and 17. And there are 36-thousand learner permits issued each year.
CEDAR FALLS — It’s up to five years in prison for a Mason City man who pleaded guilty to attempting to extort sex from a woman.Authorities say the woman had sent 19-year-old Christian Gossweiler videos and nude photos via a social media app while he was a student at the University of Northern Iowa, with Gossweiler then demanding she send more photos and videos or he would post online the material he already had. Gossweiler was accused of telling the woman that if she had sex with him, he would stop demanding photos and videos.The woman made a report to the Scott County Sheriff’s Department, which forwarded the complaint to the UNI Police. Investigators then posed as the woman in communicating with Gossweiler and set up a time and place to meet on campus for sex, with Gossweiler being arrested at that location.Gossweiler pleaded guilty to the charge earlier this summer, with Black Hawk County District Judge Bradley Harris on Monday sentencing him to five years in prison along with a suspended $750 fine.Gossweiler is scheduled to stand trial in Story County in September for a similar incident in March of this year involving an Iowa State University student. He was given probation after being convicted in a similar incident with an Iowa State student in January of last year.