Seymour police host sixth annual Rule the Road event


Most drivers education courses don’t feature high-speed police vehicles and race car drivers.

Rule the Road isn’t like most programs.

The Seymour Police Department teamed up with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and Indiana Donor Network Thursday for the sixth annual teenage driving program at Freeman Municipal Airport.

Rule the Road supplements what students learn in driver’s ed, or what their parents teach them, with hands-on experience in a controlled environment.

Thirty-five students from Seymour High School went through different scenarios that might occur while driving.

Students, accompanied by officers, drove Seymour police cruisers.

Drivers went through scenarios like spinning out and off-road driving. They also went through a timed obstacle course and backing up drill. A semitrailer demonstration educated students about blind spots.

“We pretty much drive 12 hours per day,” Lt. John Watson said. “Our car is our office. We understand how a vehicle handles and skids and the different road conditions. These kids haven’t experienced that yet so the officers can instruct them how to handle it.”

Watson said the officers look forward to the event each year.

“These kids get to kind of see the officers out of their element. They are in plain clothes and are having a good time,” he said. “It’s a great environment for both our officers and kids.”

A special guest accompanied the department this year, as professional dirt track driver Zeb Wise joined in on the fun.

Wise, 16, drives for the Driven2SaveLives campaign, which started after dirt track champion Bryan Clauson was killed in a crash during a midget race in August 2016.

Among his numerous accolades, the Angola, Indiana native recently won the Driven2SaveLives BC39 Powered by NOS Energy Drink on Sept. 5 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Wise, who has three wins in the 2019 National Midget Series, talked to his peers about driving safely and also got behind the wheel.

“Today was about teaching how to be safe while driving,” he said. “They do some pretty cool stuff with the car that makes it slide. I’m just out here to give people rides and talk to the kids. I’m 16, so I think I’m relatable and that means a lot.

“Some of these kids have only ever ridden in a car with their mom or dad,” he added. “I think it’s good for kids that have recently gotten their permit or license to get behind the wheel out here. They can kind of find their limits out here instead of wiping out.”

Drew Vehslage, a junior at SHS, said he and his friends had fun at the event.

“We’ve been driving around in cop cars and learning the rules of the road,” he said. “I liked the obstacle course. There was some competition involved with timing. We had some fun.”

SHS sophomore Kierstyn Ellis said she learned a lot from the course.

“It’s really fast, but you learn a lot in just the 30 minutes of driving,” she said. “My favorite part was the drifting and the obstacle course. No matter how hard it was to control the car, it was still really fun. It was never frantic. I always felt like I was in control. It’s a great experience.”

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