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Centerville man fights for teen driving safety - Teen Vehicle Operations Course

Originally reported in the Sept. 21, 2003, edition of the Gwinnett Daily Post, Lawrenceville, Georgia.

By Andria Simmons

LAWRENCEVILLE. After hearing countless media reports about fatal crashes involving inexperienced teenage drivers, Woodrow Gaines decided it was time to do something about it.
Gaines Centerville-based nonprofit organization, Fear This, was born last August out of a perceived need for ongoing driving educational programs for teenagers.
We give our kids a license, send them out the door and then forget about them”, said Gaines.
In Gwinnett County, 105 teens were killed in motor vehicle accidents since 1990, according to Gaines. Fear This aims to increase teen driving awareness by offering a variety of programs.
One such program is a driving maintenance course, which lasts two hours and teaches youths how to assess brakes, tires and fluids in the car.
Another offering is a daylong road course taught by Gwinnett County Police driving instructor Det. J.L. Tyson also teaches important driving tips to avoid common mistakes.
Number one is just to slow down, said Tyson.
Another thing is they have a tendency to want to tailgate, or not pay attention as far as their surroundings and other vehicles around them.
Tyson’s class includes a serpentine cone course, which teaches teens basic maneuvering skills, and a precision course which familiarizes students with where the four corners of the car are in relation to the driver’s seat. Tyson also teaches threshold braking, a technique used when anti-lock braking systems fail.
Fear This is finalizing a partnership with Year One Inc. in Braselton, which has agreed to allow the road course to be set up on their property, Gaines said.
Gaines is also setting up what he hopes will be the first of many chapters inside Georgia schools at Shiloh High School. The chapters will combine students, faculty and local law enforcement volunteers to promote awareness of driving safety to the student body all year long. The chapter will present programs at the school with guest speakers and offer driving technique demonstrations, Gaines said.
Other upcoming events include a car show Sept. 28 at Dave & Busters in Duluth, which will include safety and educational exhibits, and a fund-raising golf tournament Oct. 21 at Trophy Club of Gwinnett in Snellville.