Alexa Vaughan, 18, gets some instruction from HCSO deputy Clint Leapley before she tests her breaking maneuvering skills during the recently held Teen Driving Challenge, a  two-day defensive driving and vehicle control program designed for teenage drivers held at the Walter C. Heinrich Practical Training Site in Lithia.

Teens willing to put their driving skills to the test,  while learning to handle their vehicles in emergency situations can now attend Sheriff David Gee’s Teen Driver Challenge, routinely offered at the Walter C. Heinrich Practical Training Site in Lithia.
According to Hillsborough County Sheriff Deputy Paul Alessandri, the two-day program is designed to provide young drivers with the knowledge and understanding of vehicle dynamics and human kinetics and the effects of the forces on the human body.
“The training is a comprehensive driving safety program for teen drivers,” Alessandri said. “It is a defensive driving and vehicle control program, which we are pleased to offer to all teen drivers who are willing to come out and learn from our deputies on a one-on-one basis.”
“My parents wanted me to learn to become a more defensive driver, and I am learning a lot,”  said 18-year-old Alexa Vaughan.
Vaughan was referring to the challenge course that included maneuvering with anti-lock brakes, running a slalom course, forward and backward as well as trained avoiding obstacles in a form of orange cones strategically placed on the ground.  
Alessandri emphasized that motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those ages 15-20 across the nation and that safety on the roadways is the Sheriff priority.
“The program is a great way to help our youth get off to the best start behind the wheel,” Alessandri said. “It prepares them for emergency situations they may encounter everyday on our roadways and  and reduce the chances of a child becoming a highway statistic.”
Strawberry Crest High School junior Dylan Dixon felt that the program was not as challenging, but very enlightening.
“Its the first time I had to use my anti-lock brakes and I have to say, it was an eye opener,”  Dixon said.
For completing the program the students receive a certificate, which may be used to save on car insurance.
The Walter C. Heinrich Practical Training Site is located at 14603 C.R. 39 in Lithia.
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