Would you be willing to spend $100 to give your teen driver the skills that could help them avoid a tragic accident?

We were. Barb Kahler and I shared the cost to give this gift to our granddaughter, Kylie. She was one of the first students in the new Collision Avoidance Training offered to our newly licensed teenage drivers by the Gateway Area Police Administrators.  This is a unique, hands-on driving program that teaches advanced driving skills and hazard awareness.

The most amazing thing was watching these young drivers go from a hesitant, “I don’t know if I can do this,” expression on their faces at 8 a.m., to “Oh my gosh, I can’t believe I’m doing this,” by lunch time, to actual confidence in difficult steering and maneuvering the vehicle by 4:30 p.m. They even got to drive on wet pavement, hydroplaning, when the Camanche Fire Department came and drenched the driving course.

And it stuck. We are often reminded and instructed now by our new driver on how we can be safer drivers. I got a phone call on my way home from out of town last Sunday saying, “Grandma, call me when you get home.”

I asked her why. She said, “Well, it’s been raining and I don’t want you to have an accident.”

Where I was at the time, it was dry; but not far down the road sure enough, it was raining and I remembered to be more careful. If this training saves her from a terrible accident sometime, it will be worth much more to all of us than that $100.

The next class will begin with classroom instruction Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at Bemis Clysar. The driving range hands-on instruction will be Saturday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., also at Bemis Clysar.

The class will be instructed by Les Shields, Clinton Police Department retiree who brought this program to the area, Clinton County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Diesch, and Officer Casey Simpson of the Fulton, Ill., Police Department.

You can register your teen by going to www.gatewayareateendrivers.com to download the enrollment forms and calling Les Shields at 242-3553.

Ask Les about possible tuition assistance if you think your teen might qualify. Or come up with a creative sharing of the cost as we did.

Bev Hermann, Clinton

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