Sheriff’s class prepares teen drivers for the road

Lt. Brett Lockhart works with a student during vehicle inspections at a recent Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Teen Driver Challenge program on the driving pad of the Palm Bay campus of Eastern Florida State College.

 

A Brevard County Sheriff’s Office-sponsored free one-day class for new teen drivers is held twice a month to create more self-assured drivers better prepared for the road.

A local teen’s family thinks his attendance saved them from a serious car accident on a trip to North Carolina. 

“The young man had just taken our class and he had to do an evasion to miss a collision and slam on his brakes. After, he said his reaction came quickly because it simulated one of our exercises. His parents e-mailed us to thank us,” said Dave Anson, a program support specialist. 

Upcoming defensive driving classes will be held Jan. 15, Jan. 29, Feb. 12 and Feb. 19 for teens age 15 to 19 with a Florida Learners’ Permit or valid Florida operator’s license. Students must have use of the vehicle they will primarily drive. Classes run from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eastern Florida State College driving pad in Palm Bay. Anson said the class begins in the classroom and then moves outdoors, where students drive their own vehicle in a series of exercise maneuvers. 

The class was designed through the Florida Sheriff’s Association in 2007 in an attempt to save teen lives by reducing teen accidents due to speeding, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs or while texting or otherwise distracted. Statewide, 2,000 teens per year attend the class in 39 counties, including Brevard. 

“The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office is committed to protecting our young drivers while doing everything possible to significantly reduce the number of injuries and deaths associated with traffic accidents,” Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a prepared statement.

“One of the biggest take-aways is confidence and experience maneuvering their vehicle,” Anson said. 

Anson said many students come forced by parents, eager to earn car insurance reductions some companies offer to teens with completion certificates. “We get a lot of feedback from parents about how much their kids enjoyed the class.”

Four deputies licensed as commercial driving school instructors give up Saturdays to lead the program, Anson said. Classroom topics include teen crash facts, vehicle knowledge, effects of drug and alcohol use, and aggressive driving and road rage. In the car, students will do figure 8s, emergency braking, cornering, forward and reverse serpentines, off-road recovery, evasive maneuvers and skid control. 

For more information or to register, go to teendriver@bcso.us or call 321-264-7755.