Winter driving class is Jan. 6

Police blocked the right lane of traffic at the intersection of Egan Drive and Vanderbilt Hill Road. (Photo by Sarah Yu/KTOO)

Police blocked the right lane of traffic at the intersection of Egan Drive and Vanderbilt Hill Road earlier this month after a two-car accident. Photo by Sarah Yu/KTOO

Juneau has had lots of winter driving already this year. If you or your teenage driver have had a close call – or just want some winter driving tips — you may want to attend this APOA  class.

This is the third year the Capital City Chapter of the Alaska Peace Officers Association is sponsoring the winter driving class, geared especially for teens, though all are welcome.

Lt. Kris Sell says the program is back by popular demand.

We have had some parents express to us that  it’s hard for them to convince their children of certain things and they would like to take their teenager to someone who actually studies the physics of vehicle accidents,” Sell says. 

Speed limit is a major issue and officers often find that teenage drivers don’t relate speed limit to conditions.

They believe that somehow the speed limit is a number that is stand alone, divorced of the environment, when in fact the speed limit is the maximum you’re allowed to go when conditions permit,” she says. 

While there won’t be any actual driving time during the class, Sell says pictures and the anatomy of Juneau accidents can tell a powerful story.  The class will be taught by Accident Investigation Specialist Sarah Hieb, a training coordinator for the Alaska Police Standards Council. For years, Hieb investigated and reconstructed accidents for the Juneau Police Department.

“When we would have accidents that were serious she would go out to look at the scene to tell us what happened.  She is very knowledgeable of the math and physics involved and the behavior of vehicles,” Sell says. 

JPD school resource officer Blain Hatch is also an instructor.  He knows a lot of young drivers in Juneau high schools.

At this point in the winter maybe people have had a few close calls and thought, ‘You know, that  trip to school or that trip to work was pretty nerve wracking.’ So maybe we can talk a little bit more about why that happened and what’s going to change the behavior of your car or not.  Are studded tires really worth it, how should you be braking, how should you be steering when something goes wrong?” 

The winter driving class will be held on January 6th     from 6 to 8 p.m., at JPD.  It’s free and no reservations are needed, but Sell says previous classes have been packed.