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Comic Book Shows the Perils of Distracted Driving

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Mik & Nero: Distracted DangerJust yesterday we wrote about a Harvard dean calling for comedians to make fun of distracted drivers, in order to shame the drivers out of a habit that endangers everyone on the road. And now we have learned of a comic book series whose newest edition is about distracted driving.

As Byron Wilkes writes for OregonLive, the comic book “Mik & Nero: Distracted Danger” just became available Wednesday — for free — at the Wellness, Safety and Sustainability Fair in Clackamas County, Oregon. Mik (pronounced Mike) and Nero are cartoon dogs named after real police dogs at the Clackamas County Sheriff’s office, who they were drawn to resemble, Wilke writes.

In this newest issue of the Mik and Nero comic book series, a driver named Charlie, who thinks it’s O.K. to text while driving, has a serious accident while texting and sees his life flash before his eyes, Wilkes reports. The comic book is the product of a partnership between Oregon Impact (a nonprofit that provides educational experiences to end distracted and impaired driving) and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office, according to a press release.

The press release goes on to say:

‘This comic was created to educate our youth on the risks of distracted driving,’ writes Oregon Impact Executive Director Janelle Lawrence in the comic’s intro. ‘Texting and cell-phone use significantly increase a driver’s risk of crashing. Even a single, momentary distraction while driving can cause a lifetime of devastating consequences.’

The comic is available in the lobbies of the Sheriff’s Office Brooks Building and the Public Safety Training Center. The book is also available as a free downloadable PDF file on the Sheriff’s Office’s Mik & Nero page. Print runs of the comic are available by writing to Patrick Sherman at psherman@co.clackamas.or.us. “Mik & Nero: Distracted Danger” will be delivered to Clackamas County libraries this month, the sheriff’s office says.

In the past six years, nine separate Mik & Nero comics and activity books have been produced, in partnership with other government agencies, nonprofits, and private sponsors. So far, almost 300,000 copies have been printed.

The press release says that the real-life police dogs Mik and Nero have had adventures comparable to the cartoon characters named for them. Nero, a Shepherd/Malanois mix, was born in March 2005 and raised in the Czech Republic. When Nero was only 18 months old, the Clackamas Sheriff’s Office bought him from a California seller. Mik, a Belgian Malanois, was born in April 2003 and raised as a sporting dog in Holland. The Sheriff’s Office bought him in November 2006, the same time they bought Nero. Both dogs took a basic 240-hour training course in 2007.

Mik died in 2010. Clackamas County Sheriff Craig Roberts said “We can’t think of a better way to honor Mik’s service than by letting him live on in these comics.”

Nero loves to go to work, on the swing shift, during which he track suspects who run from crime scenes and finds things suspects try to hide as they flee. Nero prefers working in the dark.

The Sheriff’s Office invites children to send emails to Mik and Nero. It also shows the early concept drawings for the comic book series.

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