MADISON COUNTY, Ala. (WHNT) – Most parents are aware of the dangers of texting and driving. Many have even talked to their teenagers about it, but that’s as far as the conversation has gone. The Madison County Sheriff’s Department takes the admonition against distracted driving one step further.
The department is wrapping up another summer of its Distracted Teen Driver Program. This has been the third year for the program, which offers a free one-day class to any student, ages 15 or older, who lives inside Madison County limits.
The first half of the day is dedicated to a hands-on experience. Students drive through a controlled course without distractions. Then, they repeat the course with distractions. Deputies with the School Resource Officer program talk to the teens, tell them to reach into the back of the vehicle to retrieve an item, pretend to talk to them on the phone and ask them to read a message taped to the rear-view mirror. The last challenge is intended to simulate reading a text message.
The course is lined with orange cones. Students are scored based on how many cones they knock over. When they see the difference between the two runs, Deputy Matt Cagle says, “they understand why they’re here and why we’re doing this.”
The second half of the day is spent in the classroom, where the students learn about various driving laws and what to expect if they are ever stopped by law enforcement.
There are two classes remaining in this summer’s schedule. Students need not have a driver’s license but should at least be planning to obtain a learner’s permit in the near future. Monday’s class is at Buckhorn High School. On Tuesday, students will meet at Huntsville Christian Academy. To learn more or to register online, visit the program website here.
Students who complete the course may be eligible for a discount from their auto insurance carrier.