The Tennessee Highway Patrol’s “Teens and Trucks” program paid a visit to Rhea County High School on Tuesday morning. 

Students in Scott Arnold’s driver’s education course had the opportunity to speak with THP Sgt. Alan Bailey who guided the students through the demonstration and reminded them of the various dangerous situations that occur on the highway every day. 

Tuesday’s visit to RCHS provided a hands-on lesson on how to drive safely and how to share the road with tractor-trailers. Thanks to a last minute scheduling with the Rhea County Sheriff’s Department, Rhea County High School was able to host the Tennessee Highway Patrol big rig for driver’s education students. 

“We use this tractor trailer all across the state of Tennessee. Most recently, we were at the Meigs County versus McMinn Central football game and we luckily were able to stop by Rhea County today before we head to Chattanooga and the I-75 Welcome Center,” Bailey said. 

While geared especially for teens, the program is open for adults as well and has proven to be effective for drivers of all ages. Bailey said distracted driving has continued to become a real problem on the highways, and not just with young drivers. 

“We would much rather them make a mistake on the simulator and learn from it instead of having a real-life accident on the highway.  Some students will take this lesson more seriously than others but if we can get through to one kid, we believe it’s worth it,” he said. 

Students are exposed to several different possible driving situations such as the move-over law, distracted driving, effects of cutting off a tractor-trailer and more. While on board the big rig, students use six virtual reality simulator stations that feature wheels, brake and gas pedals along with TV monitors that wrap around the driver’s seat to make the experience as realistic as possible. 

Christopher Hall can be contacted at christopher.hall@rheaheraldnews.com.