Hendersonville Police Department educates young drivers

Alive at 25

Press release from the Hendersonville Police Department:

According to the National Safety Council, every hour approximately 30 teens are injured in motor vehicle crashes involving an inexperienced driver. Each day, seven teens will die in those collisions.

 Rather than sitting back and dealing with the aftermath of crashes involving young drivers, a local police department is taking steps to educate teens on taking responsibility for their own driving behavior by making better decisions as motorists.

 The Hendersonville Police Department offers the National Safety Council’s Alive at 25 program free of charge to area teenagers. The classes are geared toward teens who have received a moving traffic violation.

“Vehicle accidents continue to be the leading cause for premature deaths for young people between the ages of 15 and 24,” said Police Chief Herbert Blake. “I think it is important for us to try to use our positions and influences as police officers to address risky behaviors of young drivers. This program is another way we are trying to be a proactive and service oriented police department for our community.” 

Chief Blake brought up the idea for this initiative several years ago and approached Lieutenant Jimmy Case to lead the program as its instructor. Lieutenant Case jumped at the opportunity because of a personal experience and seeing firsthand what can happen when drivers make poor decisions. Thirteen years ago, he and his wife were in a serious motorcycle accident. The crash was caused by a distracted driver and his wife ended up losing her leg as a result. Jimmy uses this experience as a platform to bring home the seriousness of the topics covered in the program to the young drivers. 

“We typically offer this class once a month to teenagers on a Saturday morning,” said Lieutenant Case. “We hope the information they get will give these young people a second chance and possibly save their lives and the lives of others when they are behind the wheel.”

Teenagers who have received a moving violation resulting from speeding, running a stop sign or texting while driving are the candidates for which the police department offers the class. Participation in the program sometimes allows a reduction of the charged infraction to a lesser charge or a dismissal, although there is no guarantee and the outcome is dependent on the court system. This program is not offered to individuals who have received more serious charges like DUI or those cases that involve accidents resulting in injury.

The Alive at 25 curriculum speaks directly to young drivers about the dangers they face and includes topics such as speeding, following distance, sharing the road with other vehicles, cell phone use, distracted driving, peer pressure, seat belts and alcohol and drugs. Lieutenant Case shows instructional videos and leads the class in discussion. Following the completion of the class, participants receive a certificate that can be provided on their court date and to their insurance providers.

“I think it’s very helpful,” said one of the teenagers in a class offered earlier this year. “It lets me better myself as a driver.” Students in the class explained they had heard about the Alive at 25 program from the officer who wrote them a ticket or from their School Resource Officer. 

“I’d never gotten a ticket before and I was really scared,” said another participant. She explained she was worried about her license being taken away and appreciated having an opportunity to take the class and become a more responsible driver.  

“A traffic citation early on for a family with a young driver that gets a moving violation can be overwhelming,” said Police Chief Herbert Blake. “Given the fact that accidents are the leading cause of deaths for young people, the Alive at 25 Young Driver Safety Program could be of high value to Hendersonville area families with young and inexperienced drivers who may have developed bad driving habits early on.” 

The program is available free of charge to young drivers between the ages of 16-24. Classes are offered when there are enough participants to make the four-hour training practical. Parents or young drivers who may be interested can call the Hendersonville Police Department at (828) 697-3025 and leave their contact information to be contacted about the program. Additional program information is accessible at https://www.hendersonvillenc.gov/alive-at-25

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