Teen Drivers Get Road Tested

By: Jessica Dealy Email
By: Jessica Dealy Email

The parking lot at the Meridian Police Department training facility was turned into a car maintenance garage for 29 newly licensed teens.

The 15, 16, and 17-year-olds are all taking driving classes headed up by police officer Michael Street, and most are enjoying the course more than they expected.

"The skills he is teaching us are better for all teen drivers to learn, because you never know when you're going to have to throw those skills into action and have them save your life, for instance," said Collin Kent, 17.

The course spends a day focusing on car maintenance: checking oil and fluid levels, using a tire gauge, changing a flat tire. Officer Street even includes tips police officers learned while behind the wheel.

"Most vehicles will say tires only need 32 pounds (of air) but most standard sedans should be around 40-42 pounds," said Street. "What that does is keep the tire from rolling off the rim in turning, hard turning and cornering, in case they are run off the road or over-correcting. It should hold the tire on that rim for them to be able to control the vehicle more."

The teens were also asked to put on impairment goggles, which demonstrate the deteriorating effect alcohol can have on even the simplest task.

"I wouldn't drink and drive, because I couldn't even walk with the glasses on, much less drive," said Toniziun Ball, 15. "And that was fake; imagine the real thing."

Street and his colleagues say they have seen the real thing all too often. That is why they use the latest tools in educating kids outside of the classroom, and keep them safe behind the wheel.

"Drivers' education has a purpose for young teens who don't have anything and educate them about the rules of the road to pass that drivers' exam," said Street. "This course is designed to teach them how to survive on the road. It is life saving skills that we are teaching these children. "


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