Warren County students take part in teen driving competition

The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), Youngsville Police Department, Warren County Sheriff’s Office, Pennsylvania Motor Truck Association (PMTA), and Northwest Regional Safety Network recently held the first Warren County teen driving competition in Youngsville in coordination with area high schools and business partners.

Three students each from Warren Area High School, Youngsville High School, Eisenhower High School, Sheffield Area High School, Warren County Christian School, and Tidioute Community Charter School competed for more than $1,000 in prizes, and a spot in the statewide contest for a $5,000 scholarship.

The competition included a series of tests geared toward determining who the county’s top teen driver is. To qualify for the competition, each student is required have a license or combination of a permit and a license for at least one year, during which time the teen could not be involved in a crash or receive a traffic citation.

The participants in the competition were selected after a pre-test was administered at each school in March, according to Youngsville Police Department Chief Todd Mineweaser.

“We went and did a presentation at each school in the county, and then gave everyone that was eligible a written test,” Mineweaser said. “The top three scorers from each school were then selected to compete.”

Pennsylvania State Police, local law enforcement officers, professional truck drivers, and other driving experts were on hand to administer the exams. The competition challenged the teens to demonstrate their skills and knowledge through a combination of a slow-drive obstacle course, a pre-trip vehicle assessment, as well as written and perception tests.

“We used my personal vehicle for the vehicle assessment, there were five clues that each student had to find,” Mineweaser said. “The obstacle course was a really neat experience for the kids too.”

Derick Nowacki of Warren earned the top spot in the individual competition and was awarded $1,000. Second place and $500 went to Dominick Diethrick of Eisenhower. The third place, $300 prize was awarded to Ian Proctor of Youngsville.

“I expected that Derick would do really well” Mineweaser said. “He’s involved with the Explorers program, so we expected him to do well. He was actually super sick during the competition, he was struggling but he still scored really high.”

The Youngsville High School three-person team of Proctor, Nathan Lehman and Kyler Bosko had the highest group score and were awarded the team trophy.

“I wasn’t surprised that the Youngsville team finished in first,” Mineweaser said. “We (Youngsville Police) spend a lot of time at the school educating them on driving safety, so it’s exciting to see them do well. It’s nice to know that they are listening to us.”

Tidioute Charter finished in second in the team standings, and Eisenhower came in third.

Nowacki and Diethrick are eligible to compete in the statewide competition scheduled for May 9 in Camp Hill. The first, second and third place finishers in that event receive scholarships worth $3,000, $2,000, and $1,000, respectively.

Mineweaser said he hopes the event will continue in the future.

“It was a fun day and it’s a really good cause,” Mineweaser said. “It’s definitely something we want to continue to do every year. It’s all about highway safety, we want the kids to take something away from this. It also allows them to build a good rapport with the local police.”

Business partners in the Warren County driving contest included Calvert-Pearson Insurance Group, AAA East Central, Jones Chevrolet, The Galley, Warren County DUI Task Force, XPO Logistics, and FOP Lodge 83.