‘Ride with a cop’ teaches young drivers safe driving

The new distracted driving law went into effect on Oct. 1

Local young drivers participated in 'Driving with a cop' on Saturday Oct. 21, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — On the final lap of the driving course, with the rain pouring over Portland International Raceway, the police officer in the passenger seat used every distraction he could.

He turned the radio dial on, playing a duet from Meghan Trainor and John Legend. He started driving in the 16-year old driver’s ear. He even pulled out his phone, showing an assortment of adorable puppies.

“Look at this one,” he said, inducing an “aww” from the driver. “You should get your phone out too. We can search them together.”

But the driver didn’t budge, keeping her focus on the road — and that’s exactly what local police wanted out of Saturday morning’s demonstration. In a free program — it’s 3rd annual — police showed young drivers how dangerous distracted driving can be. They took the teenagers through a driving course, waiting for the last lap to use distractions, and had a station with impaired goggles.

“There’s a lot of deaths, injuries and crashes that occur while drivers are being distracted while driving,” said Sgt. Brad O’Neil with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office.

West Linn High School student Maddi Higgins in an undated Facebook photo. The teen was critically injured in a crash on June 8, 2014. (Courtesy photo)
Carrie Higgins’ daughter, Maddi, passed away in a car accident 3 years ago. (Courtesy photo)

The day began with the person who started the program 3 years ago. Carrie Higgins spoke to drivers about her daughter Maddi Higgins, a West Linn student who died in 2014 at the age of 17. Helping young drivers avoid accidents has been Carrie’s mission the last 3 years.

“It’s very traumatizing, knowing that these are preventable,” Carrie told KOIN 6 News in 2015. “Most of the time they’re 100% preventable accidents.

“I need to create change, I need to create impact. I need to stop this.”

The new distracted driving law went into effect on Oct. 1.

You can read more about the program here.