By Mary O’KEEFE
California Highway Patrol officers stopped by the Fire House youth center recently to help kids with their driving skills.
Officer Kevin Denmon and Officer Christian Baldonado brought CHP’s Start Smart program to the youth center. The program is a driver safety education class that is designed for new and future teenage drivers between the ages of 15 and 19.
The officers spoke to the teens on how they can avoid accidents, what causes collisions and offered basic information including seatbelt laws and what a provisional license entails.
“I know a lot of you have your phones, but texting … distracted driving … is a real problem,” Denmon said.
A film was shown that included scenes of real accidents that CHP officers have responded to including drivers under the influence and drivers who lost control due to excessive speed.
There were also scenes of teens who had filmed themselves doing dangerous things like opening car doors while driving and attempting to pop a wheelie on a motorcycle, with the emphasis on “attempt.” The film showed how quickly what appeared to be a fun drive could turn into a tragic mistake.
Both officers shared stories of what they had seen at several accidents, both big and small.
Denmon also reviewed the laws attached to the provisional license that teenagers receive when they first begin to drive. He asked the Fire House kids if they knew what the regulations were for the provisional.
“Not to drive after 11 at night,” said one of the kids.
Teen drivers cannot drive “between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. unless accompanied and supervised by a licensed driver who is the parent/guardian, a licensed driver who is 25 years of age or older or a certified driving instructor,” according to the CHP website.
In addition, drivers cannot transport passengers who are under the age of 20 unless accompanied and supervised by a licensed driver who is a parent/guardian, a licensed driver who is 25 years of age or older or a certified driving instructor.
The teens completed the Start Smart program and were given certificates of completion.
Anyone interested in having Officer Denmon bring Start Smart to their organization can contact him at KDenmon@chp.ca.gov or contact CHP at (626) 296-8100.
CHP has several programs for teen drivers including Every 15 Minutes, a two-day event that is held at CVHS every two years. It depicts not only a collision involving teen drivers but also the legal consequences.