by Laura Bednar
The Independence Police Department is hosting a teen safe driver program on April 30 for residents ages 16-19 with a driver’s license.
This program covers a variety of topics that go beyond the basics of driver’s education. Sgt. Kevin Repicky said when Police Chief Robert Butler was hired in November 2021, he wanted officers to get involved in the schools. A teen driving class was discussed early last year, and Repicky coordinated it over the past few months.
“It is a joint program with the Independence schools and will be held at Independence High School,” he said. The four-hour class will be split between classroom instruction and driving situations outdoors.
Classroom topics will include distracted driving, common violations, how to handle a funeral procession, what do in the event of an accident and road rage. Outside, teens will simulate traffic stops to learn how to react when pulled over by a police officer. They will also learn about field sobriety tests.
Independence police officers will help replicate traffic stops, and an outside company will demonstrate how to change a tire and jump a car battery.
“It is an opportunity for officers to interact with the kids and vice versa,” said Repicky, adding that usually students only see school resource officers.
The course is free and limited to 30 students. Registration runs from March 6-17, or until the session is filled. Registration is available at independenceohio.org under the news and updates category.
After gauging interest in the first session, Repicky said the goal would be to offer the course again on weekends or work to integrate it into the school curriculum.
At a November safety committee meeting, councilperson Tom Narduzzi said he would like to see the program become a regular classroom feature. “I would like to see it mandatory if you are going to drive your car to school,” he said.
Repicky said the universal topics taught in the course extend beyond the teen years and will be beneficial in the real world.
“Hopefully, kids have one more thing to help them navigate through society and keep them safe,” said Repicky. ∞