MCFRS News Release

It's All in the Family

Special Teen Safe Driving Course to be
Provided to Children of Montgomery County Firefighters

Course to focus on same 5 keys to safety used by emergency fire apparatus drivers

Driving age children of Montgomery County firefighters will have a unique opportunity to learn some of the same driver safety techniques used by emergency drivers. Participation in a special driver training course has been arranged and will take place at the Montgomery County fire and rescue training Academy in Rockville.

Fire Chief Tom Carr along with other Fire & Rescue personnel will be in attendance at the four hour safe driving course for teens on Friday, July 21, 2006 at 9 a.m. The training course will be a combination of classroom instruction and practical driving, behind-the-wheel evolutions.

The teen safe driving course uses the “Smith System” to teach drivers how to prevent accidents. This system is a series of interlocking techniques which allow drivers to see, think and act their way through varying driving environments, challenges, and changes that exist in everyday driving regardless of vehicle type. The Smith System consists of five keys to safety, which include (1) aim high in steering, (2) get the big picture, (3) keep your eyes moving, (4) leave yourself an out, and (5) make sure they see you. 2- Driver Training

The firefighter parent will attend the training with their teenage driver. The training will include instruction on tire blowout/ hydroplaning, driving demonstration on a cone course, and a total of five evaluations on the parent and teenager. The cone driving course will consist of a serpentine, off set alley, diminishing alley, alley dock, and backing skills scenarios.

Due to rash of teen related fatal wrecks throughout the region, including a few which affected members of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service and their families, Chief Carr decided to see what could be done for employees to not only raise awareness to the problems, but also provide some practical hands-on experience for teens and their parents. Modeled, in part after a program being taught to emergency drivers, a course was tailored and made available for firefighters’ and their driving age children. Montgomery County Fire and Rescue lead driver training Instructor Captain Jeff Williamson says of the program, “I have personally avoided at least two collisions at intersections due to the precautionary measures I learned from the Smith System. Everybody should learn these techniques. Young drivers who have already participated in the program have stated that they thought the lessons were very valuable”.

The Smith System is at the core of the current Fire and Rescue emergency vehicle operators’ course taught at the Montgomery County Public Safety Training Academy (PSTA) for fire and rescue employees. The safe driving course will run from 9am to 1pm on Friday, July 21, 2006. The PSTA is located at 9710 Great Seneca Highway (Darnestown Road and Great Seneca Highway) and the media is invited to participate.