Community college teaches defensive driving skills

Driving down Victory Way headed to grandma's for dinner, drivers are often full of spirit and anxious to see the family. What could possibly down those high spirits?

How about an offensive driver running a stop sign or driving down the wrong side of a one-way street, ready to hit head on?

A scenario like this can dampen the holiday flame but Colorado Northwestern Community College (CNCC) in Craig has teamed up with the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) to offer a class to hone defensive driving skills.

This class comes recommended to all drivers by organizers.

"A lot of people drive for a long time without a refresher course," said CSP Sgt. Hank Chase, who, along with Cpl. Brian Bagely and Trooper Rob Baughman, instructs the course. "It teaches you how to get out of situations by thinking quickly and doing the right thing."

According to Chase, the class covers many aspects of defensive driving, including manuevering in icy situations.

"We cover the gamut of defensive driving," Chase said. "And it really doesn't hurt to sit down and think about how you're driving."

The two-day, eight-hour class covers everything from mountain driving in snow and ice to driving techniques such as using anti-lock and non-locking brakes.

Learning how to deal with hazards that may arise on the road is an aspect of the class. According to Chase, 68 percent of accidents in this area are cars vs. animals. The class helps drivers "think before they act," Chase said.

CNCC-Craig Coordinator of Community Education Mary Morris believes the class to be an excellent resource for area residents.

"Because of the changing and winter driving conditions, it is an extremely important class for anyone living in Northwest Colorado," Morris said.

Students in the class are varied in age and driving experience. Of the four students in the class held Tuesday and Wednesday, one had a driver's permit, two had driven less than a year and one had been driving for more than 25 years.

Not only will good sense be learned in the class but monetary rewards may also be possible. Many insurance companies offer a discount on premiums when a class such as this is taken.

Participants in the course also receive one-half credit at CNCC-Craig.

Classes will be held monthly until June. There is a cost for the class, and Moffat County residents receive a discount through a grant and seniors also receive a discounted rate. For more information, call or stop by CNCC-Craig.

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