Teens get behind-the-wheels training

LIBERTY TWP. — In the driver’s seat, 15-year-old Rich Welsh negotiated a turn, jerking the wheel hard to the right.

The West Chester Twp. teen was among participants in The Key to Safe Teen Driving program Thursday at Lakota East High School.

Welsh, whose dad signed him up for the program, said: “I thought it would be similar to driver’s ed, kind of boring, but this it actually a lot of fun.”

The program, made possible by the combined efforts of Key Bank, The Mid-Ohio School and Kumho Tire USA, offers free defensive driving instruction to teens 15½ and older with a learner’s permit or driver’s license.

After a session of classroom instruction, students, under the guidance of Mid-Ohio School instructors, had a chance to practice wet braking and emergency lane change maneuvers in their own vehicles. Mid-Ohio brought their Honda Civic Skid Car, which simulates driving in wet or icy conditions, for participants to practice recovering from out-of-control driving conditions.

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“We’re going to teach you to drive at 100 percent for 2 to 3 seconds when it’s a life or death situation,” said Dave Roush, the Mid-Ohio School’s general manager and lead instructor.

Dan Davis with Key Bank said they started three years ago with one event. Last year, they made eight stops and this year they have 14 stops.

Ohio State Highway Patrolman Brian Bost spoke to the students and encouraged them to make sure their full attention is on the road and their surroundings.

Another student, Taylor Nunn, 15, of Milford, won a gift certificate for a full-day driving course at Mid-Ohio School’s Teen Defensive Driving Program as a door-prize. Her dad, Dave, said: “She could use it. I get nervous as can be every time I drive with her. Hats off to the sponsors. They put on a good program. It’s good for the kids.”

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