Not as easy as it looks

DeWayne Bartels
Emily Pleasant grips the wheel of a go-kart with Tazewell County Deputy Jim Brown.

Metamora Police Chief Mike Todd gives the teens drivers in his community an overall grade of A- to B+ for their driving.

But, Todd said, that does not mean he has a lackadaisical attitude about keeping an eye on them.

“They do a good job. It’s a little surprising. I’d like to attribute a certain portion of that to the fact we have two cars on patrol before and after school during the school year,” Todd said.

Todd made those comments May 19 as he helped three Tazewell County Sheriff’s deputies set up an obstacle course using go-karts. The exercise Metamora High School students were going to take part in is the “Driving Skills for Life” program done by the sheriff’s department.

“Our kids are good at wearing seat belts, going the speed limit and obeying stop signs. These kids have been excellent at driving on snow and ice,” Todd said.   

“I do have concerns though. My concerns are the cell phones and texting. It still goes on. The other major concern I have is not paying attention to buses.”

Todd said he is hoping to convince the high school administration to give him an hour during driver’s education classes to discuss these issues with the students.

But, on May 19 it was all about education wrapped in fun.

The scenario the teen drivers would face was driving down a lane facing three stop lights.

As they approached three lanes marked by traffic cones, two of the lights would go red forcing them to quickly turn to the open lane.

Tazewell County Sheriff’s Deputy Jim Linton said the purpose of the exercise is to teach the students to watch for hazards so they can react.

“The nice thing is they will slide out of control. In these go-karts going 25 mph feels like 60. They get the real feeling of being out of control,” Linton said.

“We’ve only had one student flip one over. That was quite a teachable moment.”