By Jacy Smith
Special To The Record
Finally being a student and a responsible driver has paid off, literally. Friday morning, for the second year in a row, AAA, with the help of New London High School and local law enforcement, hosted the Huron County Drivers Competition where students competed for the chance to win first prize of $300.Sixteen students from New London, South Central, Norwalk High, Western Reserve and Monroeville high schools competed in three different assessments to test their driving knowledge, skill and maneuverability.In order to be chosen to compete students needed to be seniors with no speeding tickets or car accidents on their record, and be recommended by a school official as a role model in school and their community.Lori Cook, a Safety Advisor of AAA spearheaded the event, speaking to the students and telling them, "This is your reward for being a good driver, following the speed limit and not doing anything wrong."Lieutenant Doug Hamman of the Ohio State Highway Patrol also spoke to the students reminding them to limit distractions while driving and remain focused on the road. Huron County has a current year to date total of five vehicle related deaths, the allowance is eight deaths based on the county. Lieutenant Hamman reminded students "Injuries in an accident can be minimized by wearing your seatbelt. That is something that is near and dear to the State Highway Patrol's heart is wearing your seatbelt."After a brief overview of the exams students were divided into three groups to begin either the written, visual or driving test.The written exam reviewed the laws of the road and tested students' knowledge on basic driving skills.The visual test was one of perception and awareness on the road. Students were shown a photo for ten seconds and then the image disappeared. Three true or false questions followed the image and students needed to answer those questions based on the information they committed to memory from the ten second slide.Cameron Conway, a student participant from South Central found the visual test to be the most challenging stating, "The hardest part was when they showed the picture for ten seconds and you had to answer three questions about it. You just had to take in the whole picture and remember all those little details about it."The driving test however proved to be a bit more challenging for some as cones were bumped and tennis balls were knocked off their perch. Five maneuverability drills were included in the test.Students began the series with driving through cones set up in a tight "S" shaped alley, then making a tight right curve without hitting the mock curb, and onto parallel parking, which Analicia Lugo from Norwalk High School found challenging, "I think parallel parking was the hardest just because the space was so small".After parking students made their way through a straight-line test and finished with a front stop to check the bumper in relation to the line.At each checkpoint an officer was stationed to grade the student on the level of accomplishment. At the finish of each of the three tests the scores were totaled and the winners announced.Cameron Conway of South Central High School took first place winning $300, Colton Lay of New London placed second winning $200 and the third place winner of $100 went to Brooke Buckhannon of Western Reserve. AAA provided pizza for the participants as well as goodie bags and medals for participation.