MEDINA COUNTY, Ohio — A new space has opened in Medina County for young drivers to get more experience behind the wheel. 

On Tuesday, a ribbon cutting ceremony was held for the 2.5 acre Driving Skills Pad built behind the Medina County Career Center. It’s the new home for the “Take Control Teen Driving” program that is designed for young drivers to gain confidence and control in difficult driving situations.  

Police officers help students learn different techniques to avoid accidents and to experience difficult driving situations in a controlled environment. Students will learn "accident avoidance techniques such as, emergency braking, skid and off road recovery and collision avoidance."

The driving program was formerly held at the parking lot of a nearby Westfield Insurance building. The driving pad was put together with support from Medina County Law Enforcement, Medina County Career Center, Ehrbar Angels Foundation, Jessica Lynn Schaffer Memorial Fund, M-Star Foundation, Westfield, the State of Ohio Department of Public Safety and Medina County Probate and Juvenile Court Judge Kevin Dunn.

The three foundations supporting the program were founded by parents who lost children in car accidents.  Phil and Tammy Schaffer lost their 18-year-old daughter Jessica Lynn in a car crash. 

"We want it to save one child’s life and it would make all the difference in the world," said Phil Shaffer whose 18-year-old daughter Jessica Lynn had died in a car crash.

Chris and Laura DePiero also lost their two children, Andrew and Erin, in an accident. Their support means their kids' legacy lives on with the hope of preventing another tragedy.

"Even if it minimizes the accident," said Laura. "Even though accidents might occur, it can minimize the effects of the accident."

Officers and firefighters will also be able to use the space for training, but the focus remains on giving young drivers the experience they need to stay in control. 

"If we can do that here in this environment, then we can hopefully save lives," said Sgt. Christopher LaFond with the Montville Police Department. 

The program is free for any licensed teen driver. Classes are held the third Saturday of each month at the Medina County Career Center.