Making an Impact
October 2019 - Volume 7 - Issue 2

First-ever ‘Drive With A Cop’ highlights safety for teen drivers
Written by Miles Furuichi

GRANTS PASS, Ore.– Driving can be very dangerous especially when distracted or intoxicated. This weekend, a new event put on by the Grants Pass Department of Public Safety is addressing those very issues with an event called “Drive With A Cop.”

For young drivers, life behind the wheel can be dangerous – even more so if you’re driving impaired. On Saturday, Grants Pass police provided a variety of discussions and activities for young drivers to learn from. This is the first time this event has been introduced outside of Clackamas County where it was first created.

“When we have a fatality that involves a young driver or teenage driver it hits the family pretty hard, it also hits the officers pretty hard,” said Deputy Chief Jim Hamilton. He says that the department has seen an increase in driving under the influence crashes over the past several years.

With this new event, they hope to lower those numbers. About 20 young drivers from the county came to participate. Many came to check out the activities and see what can happen if you drive impaired.

“Like these types of sites,” said 17-year-old Miles Immel from Grants Pass High School. He pointed to two trailers that carried the remains of cars involved in crashes. “To see what can happen if you are actually driving impaired or texting or anything. I just really wanted to come out and see that kind of stuff.”

Of the variety of activities, one of them involved using drunk goggles which act as a simulation for what it would be like to drive under the influence. Other events included a skid car and a driving course.

“We definitely want to get ahead of that especially with teens and new drivers,” said Hamilton “We want to make sure they understand the dangers of that.”
But like with any of these events, it starts with a story.

In 2014, three days short of finishing her junior year of high school, 17-year-old Maddi Higgins from West Linn died in a car crash. The driver she was with had been driving over 90 miles an hour on a 35 mile per hour road.

“I mean every day I have a hole in my heart,” said Carrie Higgins, Maddi’s mother. “But I sort of look at Maddi kind of rooting for me going, ‘Come on mom! Keep living, keep finding joy!'”

Higgins finds that joy in helping other young drivers understand safety. She helped Clackamas County with the first-ever “Drive With A Cop” event a year after Maddi died. They’ve held one of these events each year since then.

“In an age where cars are getting safer and safer, it’s the distractions and our behaviors behind the wheel and in cars that are really killing people,” said Carrie. She describes this issue as an epidemic. According to the CDC, in 2017, 2,364 kids age 16-19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. However, 300,000 were treated in emergency departments due to motor vehicle crashes.

With this first expansion of the program outside of Clackamas County, Higgins hopes it will continue to spread and she wants the message to be clear – it’s a tragedy no one should ever have to go through.

“The hole in your heart never fills right,” she said. “But being able to change lives in her name, save lives in her name does give me a little peace.”

Grants Pass Department of Public Safety says it would like to keep doing this every year. If you would like to participate, young drivers will be able to sign up for a spot next year.

Watch the video Here

5 tips to remember for driving safely in the rain
Being behind the wheel of a rain-splattered windshield doesn't have to be stressful.
Singing in the rain is fun. But driving in it? Not so much. Driving in light or heavy floods, or even just rainy, stormy conditions can be anxiety inducing.  According to the U.S. Department of Transportation , there are on average more than 950,000 automobile accidents each year due to wet pavement, resulting in approximately 4,700 deaths and 384,000 injuries.

Being behind the wheel with a rain-splattered windshield doesn't have to be a white-knuckled, nerve-racking experience. Brent Praeter, supervising instructor at D&D Driving School, Inc. and member of the Driving School Association of the Americas, both in Kettering, Ohio, offers these tips and techniques for driving in a downpour:

  • Think. "Many people drive subconsciously, out of habit," says Praeter. "And, when it rains, they often don't adjust their thinking." When conditions are less than ideal, drivers need to stay alert and focused on what's going on around them.

  • Turn on those headlights. It's the law in all states to turn on headlights when visibility is low, and many states also require having the headlights on when the windshield wipers are in use. Praeter says that well-working wipers and relatively new (not threadbare) tires are must-haves when driving in rain, especially when driving at high speeds on the highway.

  • Beware of hydroplaning. Hydroplaning is the technical term for what occurs when your tires lose traction with the road due to excess water on top of the road. The result is that your vehicle begins to slide uncontrollably. It's easy to hydroplane: all you need is one-twelfth of an inch of rain on the road and a speed of more than 35 miles per hours. If your tires have extensive wear and tear, you are more highly likely to hydroplane. You can hydroplane even if you are driving a four-wheel drive car, SUV, or truck.

If you start to hydroplane , let off the accelerator (gas pedal) slowly, and steer straight until you regain control. If your car starts to spin, turn your wheel in the direction that the vehicle is spinning, slowly. Do not turn your wheel against the direction it has begun to spin. Do not jerk the wheel sharply in one direction or the other, as you could flip your car due to over correction.

Consider taking a driving course through your local DMV to learn how to drive safer on wet roads and better avoid hydroplaning. 

  • Turn off cruise control. Ironically, on rain- or snow- slick surfaces, cruise control may cause you to lose control. You might think it'll help you stay at one steady speed, but if you hydroplane while you're in cruise control, your car will actually go faster.

  • Slow down. "Speed limit signs are designed for ideal conditions,” says Praeter, “which means driving when you have little traffic and good visibility." That's hardly the environment you're driving in when it's raining. So, let up on the accelerator and allow more time to get to your destination.

Extra precautions might help ease the anxiety associated with driving in the rain, making it safer for everyone. If a crash does happen, make sure you know the  steps to take after a crash .
Aging Road User Awareness

Older Driver Safety Awareness week is Dec 2-6, 2019

In the Salem area ODOT is sponsoring events at the Center 50+ in partnership with the City of Salem, AARP and other providers. Events are planned for the week, but our focus is on 12/06/19 when Center 50+ is hosting an Aging Road User Resource Fair. For those further away, senior centers may be holding their own events and are often a great resource for those with questions about transportation options. My hope is that this localized effort will provide a template for a similar but expanded effort in the years to come.

 If there are questions regarding the posters and flyers I would encourage you to direct them to the Salem event if appropriate or the DMV websites “Driver Fitness” section. A few talking points for the conversation:

-         Chronological age is important in society but tells us very little about a person in isolation.

-         Driving is an important part of modern life. There are measurable benefits to the
independence and dignity of providing one’s own transportation and it should be preserved when it can be done so safely.

-         Anyone could find themselves unable to drive. Seizures, injuries and medical conditions can affect anyone at any age and may render some people unable to provide their own transportation.

Visit for more information on the at risk program

Older Drivers Poster
Car Seat Check Up Events

Date and Time

11/23/2019 10:00am - 12:30pm
11/28/2019 4:00pm - 6:00pm
12/05/2019 11:00am - 2:00pm
12/06/2019 1:00pm - 3:00pm
12/07/2019 9:00am - 11:30am
12/10/2019 8:30am - 11:00am
12/12/2019 4:00pm - 6:00pm
12/14/2019 9:00am - 11:30am
12/16/2019 11:30am - 2:30pm
12/21/2019 8:45am - 2:15pm
12/21/2019 9:00am - 11:30pm
12/26/2019 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Clackamas AMR
Eugene Fire
Redmond Fire and Rescue
Oak Grove Fire Department
Bethany Doernbecher
Corvallis Fire Department
Ontario Fire
Tuality Health Education Ctr
Bend Fire Department
Vancouver Peace Health
Beaverton Kuni Auto Center
Eugene Fire

12438 SE Capps Rd
1705 West 2nd Avenue
341 Northwest Dogwood Ave.
2930 SE Oak Grove Blvd.
15220 NW Laidlaw
400 NW Harrison Blvd
444 SW 4th St
334 SE 8th Ave
63377 Jamison Street
400 NE Mother Joseph Pl
3725 SW Cedar Hills Blvd
1705 West 2nd Avenue