Timothy Thorn wondered what he had done wrong when an officer directing traffic at Dawson County High School motioned for him to pull onto the shoulder of the road last Wednesday afternoon.
“I thought I was getting a ticket,” the junior said, recalling his feelings as Dawson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Johnny Holtzclaw walked to his window writing on a clipboard. “I was really scared.”
But instead of cautioning Thorn to slow down or use his blinker when turning, Holtzclaw told the teen he had been “caught safe.”
An initiative started by the sheriff’s office last year, Caught Safe rewards student drivers for obeying traffic rules, such as wearing seat belts.
“I always wear my seat belt,” Thorn said Friday when several school resource officers showed up at his lunch period and gave him four pizzas to share with his friends.
Deputy Stan Harrison said the program is a good incentive for other young drivers at the high school.
“Other students start telling me: ‘Hey, I wear my seat belt, too,’” he said. “The ‘caught safe’ ticket is the only good ticket they’ll ever get.”
Harrison said officers will be on the lookout each week for safe student drivers.
The program is planned to continue throughout the school year.