Course teaches teens car safety smart

Published 10:02 pm Thursday, March 24, 2011

Safe driving begins with educating the most basic element of driver safety – the person behind the wheel.

The Collision Avoidance Training (C.A.T.) program endeavors to educate teen drivers in an effort to significantly reduce the amount of wrecks Pike County and the surrounding areas have seen in recent months.

Sgt. Benny Scarbrough, public information officer for the Troy Police Department, said the program which will be offered April 8-9 is designed to test a teen’s driving skills and abilities.

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“It’s a defensive driving program and is designed to give the student the ability to know what to do in a negative situation,” Scarbrough said. “The course provided is a controlled situation, and is something that we hope the student will benefit from by knowing what maneuvers to make in case they were faced with a real life incident or event where they would have to use a defensive maneuver, whether it is to get out of the way of traffic or whatever the case may be.”

The two-day program is comprised of in-class lectures and familiarization of the student’s vehicle on the first day and a situational obstacle course on the second day. “We have cones that we set up during our driving course,” Scarbrough said. “We do this on one of the taxiways at the airport. We set up the various courses on the taxiway and it can hold all eight of our courses that we have, which is an important part of the program.”

Scarbrough said the program is not only a good course to help students understand their driving skills, but it also builds upon and enhances those skills. “We simulate difference things,” Scarbrough said. “We have a lane-change course, and in that lane change course we may simulate somebody backing out of a driveway, where the student will have to react accordingly. Providing these courses, which are under safe and controlled situations, are extremely helpful in teaching the students what defensive driving is all about.”

In addition to teaching defensive driving techniques, Scarbrough said instructors even go to the point of teaching the student to become even more familiar with their vehicles than what they already are.

“We do vehicle maintenance where we check to see if the vehicle is even road worthy,” Scarbrough said. “Also, to check and see if the young person even knows how to check the different maintenance areas on their vehicle.”

According to Scarbrough, a passenger is more likely to do what the driver does, which means that if a driver doesn’t where a seatbelt, for example, then the passenger is less likely to where a seatbelt.

“We teach driver’s to be very responsible people,” Scarbrough said. “A lot of people are doing or looking out for what that driver is doing. That is one of the important things that we try to instill in the students, in order to let them know that what they do not only affects them, but it affects other people that are riding with them.”

Scarbrough said officers’ number one objective is to instill safe driving in all their licensed drivers. “We know that this program is one program that can help do that,” Scarbrough said. “This program will enhance those areas of driving safety that we know need addressing.”

The CAT program is scheduled for April 8-9, and cost for the course is $25.

All candidates must contact Scarbrough or Det.Michael O’Hara at 566-0500, or visit, to sign up for the program. Additional dates for the program are May 6-7; June 10-11; and June 24-25.

Requirements for eligibility include: having a valid driver’s license and having insurance on the vehicle being used.