About the Program

HCSO is pleased to offer a safety program for teen drivers. Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for those ages 15 to 20 across the nation. Safety on the roadways is a priority of the Sheriff's Office and we are committed to helping our youth get off to the best start behind the wheel.

The program is called the Teen Driver Challenge, which is supported by the Florida Sheriffs Association. The program is part classroom / part driving experience. Safety on the roads is everyone’s responsibility. The Teen Driver Challenge is one way teens and parents can build the foundation for years of safe driving.

The Teen Driver Challenge is a defensive driving and vehicle control program designed for teenage drivers. The program is designed to provide young drivers with the knowledge and understanding of vehicle dynamics and human kinetics, the forces created by an automobile, and the effects of the forces on the human body.

The objective of the program is to enhance the young driver's awareness of the complex task of operating a motor vehicle and to create and practice skills that will prepare them to anticipate and handle hazards that occur daily in normal driving conditions. This program has been created by law enforcement professionals. The curriculum was created around the fact that most crashes involving teenage drivers are classified as "avoidable" and due to lack of experience or training, teens are not prepared to make the vehicle respond appropriately.

The education segment (defensive driving) is designed to give the student a better understanding of the responsibilities and liabilities of the driver, vehicle dynamics, friction, and the effects of intoxicating substances on their ability to operate the vehicle. A traffic model is created at the beginning of the program and segments build on each other to a final conclusion; 35 mph is fast. This portion of the program gives the students a better understanding of why the vehicle responds the way it does and prepares them for the exercises on the driving range. The basic principles of safe, defensive driving are emphasized throughout this program.
 

Skills and Techniques

The purpose and structure of this program is to give young drivers a strong foundation from which they can continue to develop and improve their driving skills to a consistently high level while maintaining safe driving habits. Due to lack of experience, most teens have little or no idea of how the vehicle responds in a given situation or how to regain control of the car once it is out of control.

Eight basic skills, actions or techniques of driving are identified as areas that teens need experience or training to safely operate a motor vehicle. Steering, deceleration, backing, and off road recovery are some of the tasks addressed by this program. Training exercises used in this program have been adopted from the law enforcement training manual that is approved by the Criminal Justice Standards and Training Commission. Student drivers must complete the following exercies:

Training Exercises

  1. Evasive Maneuvers
  2. Threshold / Emergency Braking
  3. Cornering
  4. Backing
  5. Off Road Recovery
  6. Forward Serpentine
  7. Reverse Serpentine
  8. Figure 8

All classes are conducted under the direct supervision of certified high liability driving instructors. Instructors ride with each student and students move to the next exercise only after the instructor feels the student has demonstrated a reasonable degree of skill.

The Teen Driver Challenge is an effective program at reaching teens, modifying their attitudes and creating all around better teenage drivers. So what can we do to help ensure our kids live long enough to gain the experience necessary to become a good driver? We provide a training program that prepares them for emergency situations they may encounter everyday on our roadways and highways. We believe that we can reduce the chances of your child becoming a highway statistic through this defensive vehicle program.

Training Location

Walter C. Heinrich Practical Training Site

8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
14603 County Road 39
Lithia, FL 33547

How to Enroll

The program is offered on first-come, first-served basis and is limited to 12 participants, with an additional 3-4 on stand-by. For additional information please contact the Sheriff's Office or the School Resource Officer at your child's high school.

Requirements

  • Each student must have a valid Driver's License (No Restricted Licenses)
  • Vehicle
To enroll in the program you must download the enrollment forms (some of them must be notarized). You can return the enrollment forms by mail or in person to the addresses listed below.

Mail-In Forms Address

 

Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office

Attn: Community Outreach Division
P.O. Box 3371
Tampa, FL 33601

(813) 247-8115

In-Person Drop Off Address

 

Sheriff's Operations Center

2008 E. 8th Avenue
Tampa, FL 33605

813-247-8000