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Free ‘crash course’ in driver safety set

Scene of a two car accident just after

Scene of a two car accident just after 10:30 p.m. at Kirkwood Avenue and Merrick Avenue in Merrick. (June 10, 2012) Credit: Paul Mazza

Suffolk County police plan to offer a free “Crash Course in Crash Avoidance” for teens ages 16 to 19 next week, to educate young drivers on how to avoid dangerous driving conditions.

“One of the areas we stress is the distracted driver,” said Sgt. Gerard Varley with the county Police Academy training section. “The teenage drivers of today have a lot of technological devices at their disposal, and unfortunately there’s a lot of distracted drivers using cellphones and texting.”

Det. Lt. Robert Donohue, of the Community Response Bureau that coordinates the program, said Suffolk County had the highest number of motor vehicle fatalities of any county in the state. “We are trying to impress upon our young drivers the enormous risks of being distracted and the need for safe and proper driving practice.”

The 2 1/2-hour course, to be taught by police emergency vehicle operations instructors, will be offered twice a day each day July 9-13 at 9 a.m. or 1 p.m. at the county Police Academy at 110 Old Country Rd., Westhampton. Call 631-852-6109 to register.

The course will cover vehicle dynamics, braking, cornering, accelerating and crash avoidance, with the aim of supplementing training already learned through the licensing process from the Department of Motor Vehicles and defensive driving courses.

Varley said younger, inexperienced drivers were more prone to risk-taking than a more mature, experienced driver and, like all drivers, needed to be aware that “when you’re driving, it’s the most important thing you’re doing — keep your eyes on the road. We want to educate to try to prevent tragedy, to make the road safer for all of us — that’s the priority,” Varley said. “It’s a big responsibility operating a car, a 4- to 5-thousand-pound piece of equipment that can do real harm ... We all drive these roads with our families, and this is an effort by the police department to try to educate young drivers.”


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