Jackson Co. Sheriff’s Office teaches first-time drivers about safety, what to do during a traffic stop

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- With school starting this month, a lot of teenagers will be back on the roads. That`s why the Jackson County Sheriff`s Office offered first-time drivers a course on what to do if (or when) they`re pulled over.

No one wants to see flashing lights in their rear-view mirror. Nor see a sheriff's deputy walk up and say, "I'm Deputy Vestal with the Sheriff's Department; you got your license handy? May I see it please?"

Yet, that's what roughly 150 teens signed up for Saturday. They attend the First Time Drivers Safety Seminar at the New Springs Community Church in Lee's Summit. The Jackson County Sheriff`s Office wants teens to know how to behave if - or when - when -they`re pulled over.

"We want to teach them how they should handle themselves," explained Deputy Raashid Brown, "and how we as law enforcement professionals should be acting."

Deputies like Brown and Vestal spent hours Saturday teaching teens what to do.

"The most important thing is to be polite," explained Brown. "Anytime you come in contact with a law enforcement officer, especially on a traffic stop, be polite. The second thing is just do what you're told, within the rule of the law."

The next most important thing, said Brown, is not to make sudden movements, and to tell officers what you're about to do - before doing it.

Deputies also covered how not to get pulled over in the first place. Mainly, no distracted driving. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration distracted driving claimed 3,450 lives in 2016.

That's the part that stuck with teenagers, like Michelle Thomas. "It was a good opportunity to learn how to be a safer driver," said the 16-year-old, "and just like, keep myself and everyone else safer."

According to these teens, it`s working. "I won't be tired while I'm driving," said Sylvia Perry, "I won't text while I'm driving, I won't be on my phone at all."

Most of them are brand-new drivers; they may not remember these rules for their entire driving careers. But this class provides a good foundation.

"If I know what's going to happen," said Perry, referring to distracted driving, "and what could happen, and I caused it, I don't think I could live with it."

The government says one of three teens will be involved in an accident because of distracted driving. These teens say it will not be them.

If you missed Saturday's session, the sheriff's office says it will offer other classes - more for teens, as well as some for older adults.

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