RPD Teams with Governor Highway Safety Program and Ford Motor Company to Teach Safe Driving to Teens

Officer Riggsbee instructs a student who is attempting to drive while texting as part of a distracted-driving scenario.
On Wednesday, March 9, Senior Officer J.E. Rigsbee of the RPD's Crash Reconstruction Unit teamed up with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program and Ford Motor Company to present a driving skills program to students at Sanderson High School. Two Ford Mustangs, a Ford Fiesta and a Ford Fusion, all 2011 models, were brought to Sanderson so that teen drivers could learn how dangerous distractions and impairment can be while driving.

After a quick presentation to the entire school about driving issues, some lucky students were chosen to participate in three driving scenarios. In the first scenario, the student drove a Ford Mustang that was specially configured to lose traction during turns. The Ford instructors taught the students the importance of maintaining calm if a vehicle loses traction and how to regain control of a vehicle. In the second scenario, an instructor from Ford had students drive a cone course first without any distractions and then attempt to drive the same course while texting.

In the third scenario, Rigsbee had the students first drive a twisted cone course unimpaired, and then attempt to complete the course while wearing Fatal Vision goggles, which distort a person’s vision to mimic the effects of alcohol impairment.

This program, which is touring the country, is called Ford Driving Skills for Life. Will it make these teens safer drivers? “Listening to the teens, it was clear that there was an effect,” said Rigsbee. “These students were shocked at how badly they drove while texting and while ‘impaired.’ I heard several of them talking about how they would never get into a vehicle with a driver who had been drinking, and how they would never again text while driving.”

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