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‘Drive with a Cop’ puts teens behind the wheel posted on 11/01/2019

The Portland International Raceway was filled with the sounds of revving engines and squealing brakes on the sunny Saturday morning of Oct. 5.

Instead of sportscars racing neck-in-neck around the track, teen drivers from Clackamas County, accompanied by county deputies trained as driving instructors, navigated a driving course designed to show real-world dangers encountered behind the wheel.

The raceway, located at 1940 North Victory Blvd. in Portland, played host to the fifth annual Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) “Drive with a Cop” program. 70 teen drivers and 34 parents participated in the event, designed to teach safe driving techniques and educate young drivers about the dangers of speed, impaired and distracted driving.

“A lot of life-saving (driving) skills are not being instructed,” Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said. “We’re here to help save lives on the road.”

The sheriff cited motor vehicle crashes as the number one cause of teen deaths nationwide.

Roberts added that young drivers in the Mount Hood communities face additional dangers from winter weather, including safely putting on chains along the highway and also from encountering wildlife while driving in rural areas.

“If a deer runs right in front of the car (the driver) might just have to hit it to avoid attempting a radical correction,” Roberts said. “The (young drivers) have to be able to make that decision.”

This year’s program included hands-on driving training, a crash reconstruction presentation and an opportunity to wear “impaired goggles” that simulated driving under the influence of intoxicants. Young drivers also had the opportunity to hear the stories of guest speakers impacted by the loss of family members in teen driving crashes.

Leading causes of teen accidents include distracted driving and following too closely. The driving training course allowed the inexperienced drivers to conduct a full emergency stop under the supervision of the deputies to experience the time and distance necessary to avoid a collision.

Roberts stated that the teen drivers’ time with the deputies was not only a chance to build safe driving skills but also an opportunity to form a positive relationship with the law enforcement officers.

During the event, Les Schwab gave a demonstration of safe techniques for changing a tire and putting on chains while on the roadside. Representatives from the company instructed young drivers of safe vehicle maintenance practices, such as maintaining adequate tire tread, tire pressure and proper alignment to prevent tire failure or other related accidents.

The “Drive with a Cop” program was sponsored by the Oregon Department of Transportation, the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association, Oregon Impact, Les Schwab and Swift Transportation. For more information about the program contact Clackamas County sheriff's office Event Coordinator Kim Lippert by email at klippert@clackamas.us or by phone at 971-413-1762.

By Ben Simpson/MT




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