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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
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Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of Dec 31, 2002 - Jan 7, 2003


A one-man 
crusade on wheels

Sun Valley man offers wisdom, 
tips to drivers

Express Staff Writer

Sun Valley resident Dwight Dickey doesnít like to see rolling stops.

Nor does he like to see tailgating, speeding or turns that werenít preceded by an appropriate signal.

And after seeing an abundance of these often-overlooked infractions on roadways throughout the Wood River Valley, he is lending a renewed focus to his current profession as the regionís primary driving instructor.

"I think the most frequent thing you see around here is failure to stop and failure to use a turn signal," he said. "My students often point these out, and itís my job to teach them to do things differently."

Driving instructor Dwight Dickey, center, earlier this month took a trio of young students through downtown Ketchum. Dickey conducts his on-road instruction in a modified car that allows him to take control in an emergency. Express photo by Willy Cook

Dickey, a retired Marine Corps colonel, is the co-owner of the Sun Valley Driving School, a business he started with his wife, Corby, three years ago.

He previously worked as a driving instructor in the Boise area, and after moving to Elkhorn determined that residents of the Wood River Valley could use his expertise as a certified driving instructor.

"Before, people used to have to go down to Twin Falls," he said.

Today, he teaches four to five driverís education classes a year. The classesówhich attract mainly teenagers en route to their first driverís licenseótypically last eight to 10 weeks, and incorporate classroom and on-road instruction.

The classes give young drivers and those without a high-school diploma the necessary education to get a driverís license from the state.

As the schoolís only instructor, Dickey occasionally finds time to give private, one-on-one instruction to licensed adults who want to improve their skills.

"We only have two employees, my wife and I," he said. "We want to keep it a high-quality operation."

Dickey said that most of his students become "good drivers," but not all graduate from his classes on their first attempt.

"I can assess pretty quickly whether they will be good drivers or will have problems on the road," he said. "I cannot graduate everybody. They have to take it seriously."

Dickey said the Wood River Valley presents some interesting challenges to teaching basic driving skills. "Itís a different environment up here," he said. "There are no freeways, and there are very limited opportunities for passing."

Despite solid enrollment in his classes, Dickey said he believes more valley drivers could benefit from driverís education.

"We see everything when weíre out on the road," he said. "There are many basics to driving that many adults just donít know about."

Apart from illegal turns and rolling stops, Dickey said the most apparent infraction by valley drivers is speeding, particularly on Highway 75 between Bellevue and Timmerman Junction.

He noted that young drivers are often the most likely to make poor decisions on the road, often because they tend to get easily distracted. "I try to discourage teens from having multiple friends in one car," he said. "The biggest danger for them is running off the road when theyíre not paying attention and then over-correcting. That causes most of the accidents involving kids around here."

Dickey said one of the first tips he gives to young drivers who find themselves veering off the road is to hold the steering wheel firmly, slow down and gradually return to the driving lane.

Dickey said some of the most important tips he gives to all of his driving students include:

  • Turn your headlights on at dawn and dusk to make your vehicle visible to others. (He said he routinely sees cars on Highway 75 that do not have appropriate lighting.)

  • Pay special attention at intersections to determine exactly where you need to stop, for a crosswalk, stop sign or stop light.

  • Donít drive continuously in a center turn lane.

  • In snowy or icy conditions, slow down, increase your following distance and keep an eye on your rear-view mirror.

  • In winter conditions, apply extra caution when applying the brakes. "If you donít have ABS brakes, try not to use them unless you have to," Dickey said, suggesting that motorists downshift whenever possible to slow down on ice.


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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.