HAZEL GREEN, Alabama — The Madison County Sheriff’s Office announced Friday that it will be implementing a free, one-day distracted-driving program in the summer for high schoolers.
The program, the first of its kind in the county, will focus on traffic stop etiquette, DUI laws, seat belt laws, cell phone usage and texting while driving. The class, which consists of a multimedia presentation and a hands-on driving course, will be held at Hazel Green High School June 18 and July 23; Buckhorn High School June 20; Sparkman High School July 9 and 25; Madison County High School July 11; and New Hope High School July 16.
The class size is limited to no more than 30 students, so organizers urge students and parents to register by contacting the school resource officer for your teen’s school.
Sheriff Blake Dorning said the idea to host the class was brought to the department’s attention by school resource officers.
“A lot of legislative action has been taken on the dangers of texting while driving, so more and more states are imposing more regulation about operating electronic data instruments while driving motor vehicles,” Dorning said Friday at the press conference, which was held at Hazel Green High School. “If you can show the dangers to young drivers, they will understand it’s very dangerous and hazardous while operating a motor vehicle.”
Student participants will begin the day with a Powerpoint presentation in a classroom before taking to a cone-outlined course filled with various traffic signs. Driving a Polaris Ranger — similar to an ATV, but covered with individual seat belts — students, who will be equipped with helmets, will be accompanied by deputies who will give them scenarios that call for certain actions to simulate distracted driving, including texting, talking on a cell phone and reaching behind the back seat to grab something.
“The deputy will be with them to direct them on what actions to take,” said Dorning, who noted the department used discretionary funds from its drug seizure program to fund the classes, which totaled less than $20,000. “There will also be deputies on the course to grade the students on driving habits and the scores will be shared with them.”
And the purpose of the driving program is simple, Dorning advised.
“To save the lives of children.”