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Teen Driving Academy at AMS

Special Photo
Atlanta Motor Speedway will become a safe-driving training ground for teenagers and their parents, Saturday. The Special Operations Division of the Henry County Police Department will host the SafeAmerica Foundation's 6th Annual Teen Driving Academy.

Special Photo Atlanta Motor Speedway will become a safe-driving training ground for teenagers and their parents, Saturday. The Special Operations Division of the Henry County Police Department will host the SafeAmerica Foundation's 6th Annual Teen Driving Academy.

By Elaine Rackley

erackley@henryherald.com

There were 7,281 accidents on the roadways of Henry County last year. Nearly 3,000 of them involved inexperienced, or distracted drivers. Tweny-nine people died, and 11 of them were under the age of 23, according to police. Saturday, in an effort to improve these statistics, a safe-driving academy will be held for young people at the Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The Special Operations Division of the Henry County Police Department (HCPD) will host the SafeAmerica Foundation's 6th annual Teen Driving Academy.

Safe-driving training gets underway at 8 a.m., and will continue until 2:30 p.m.

"The Henry County Police Department is committed to reducing teen driving accidents and the injuries or deaths that can be the end result," said Henry County Police Chief Keith Nichols. "One of our goals is that this event will illustrate to teens how serious and lasting the effects of decisions they make while driving can be. It takes time and experience to acquire good driving skills and habits, but many teens don't seem to grasp this.

"If you take the added potential [of] driving distractions out there, such as cell phones and texting, these are a definite recipe for a driving disaster," added Nichols. "Hopefully our teen participants will pay close attention to what the instructors are telling them, take heed and practice safe driving habits."

Teens, and their parents, will learn about Georgia's driving laws and the consequences of violating them, vehicle safety features and human input, as well as driver accountability in some traditional, and not-so-traditional forums.

Professional instructors, law enforcement personnel and other public safety agents will use methods of "pit stop" class instruction, as well as obstacle courses, that demonstrate the dangers of drinking while driving, and texting while driving.

There will be an interactive opportunity to experience the "blind spots" that a commercial truck driver experiences -- and how to ensure that you are seen; hazard recognition training for drivers at railroad crossings; and a rollover simulator that shows what happens when occupants do not wear seatbelts.

General admission for the event is $25, which includes admission for a teen, and an adult, and $10 for each additional attendee in the group.

Participating units within HCPD's Special Operations Division include the HEAT (Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic) Unit, Motors Unit, Traffic Unit, and K-9 who will provide static and vehicle/equipment displays as well as a texting/driving course, an opportunity to see crash- scene reconstruction, and a demonstration by the K-9 Unit.

Fire and EMS personnel will join law enforcement in a large-scale reenactment of a major fatality accident, from first arrival on the scene to the loading of a coffin in a hearse.

"Many teens lose their lives needlessly from poor decisions made while behind the wheel," said Henry County Fire Department Captain Sabrina Puckett. "If we can make an impression upon just one teen driver, maybe we can prevent, at the least, one needless life lost."