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The Sheriff's Office will be hosting a distracted drivers course beginning in July for ages 14-18. Classes are free and open to teens from all areas.

The class will include one hour of instruction in the classroom, as well as a driving course where students will drive a golf cart with a Sheriff’s Deputy while being distracted.

“We want to show kids how dangerous it can be,” said St. Clair County Sgt. Matt Morris. “The average text message takes five seconds and at 55 mph, you can cover the full length of a football field.”

The class will also teach students that they would be criminally responsible for texting and driving, statistics on accidents related to distracted driving, and traffic stop etiquette if they are pulled over by a law enforcement officer.

“It’s a very important use of our time because with traffic safety, just covering the dos and don’ts of driving, especially distracted driving which is so prevalent these days,” said St. Clair County Sheriff Billy Murray. “This is a good course—the kids learn something and leave with an understanding of how dangerous distracted driving can be.”

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) nine percent (2,935) of fatal crashes in 2017 were reported as distraction-affected crashes. In 2017 there were 3,166 people killed in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers. Six percent of all drivers involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted at the time of the crashes.

Eight percent of drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were reported as distracted. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes. In 2017 there were 599 nonoccupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and others) killed in distraction-affected crashes.

Distracted driving can include anything that diverts the driver’s attention from the road, including fatigue, and physical and emotional conditions of the driver. Specifically for cell phone use, which is a primary topic of the distracted driving course, a total of 434 people died in fatal crashes that involved cell-phone-related activities as distractions in 2017 according to NHTSA.

Classes start on July 9. If you would like to register for this free class please email completed forms to Sergeant Matt Morris mmorris@stclairco.com or call 205-473-2902 for additional information. Downloadable forms are available at www.stclairsheriff.org.

Class dates and time:

July 9 - Odenville High School at 10 a.m.

July 10 - Ashville High School at 10:30 a.m.

July 12 - Springville High School at 10 a.m.

July 16 - Ragland High School at 12 p.m.

July 19 - Moody High School at 10 a.m.

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