“Why do you bother speaking to students at driving schools?”
A student at a local driving school recently asked me this question and that’s an easy question to answer. It is a civic obligation to speak to students who don’t have their licenses yet and are still impressionable. It’s also the greatest opportunity I have to speak to teens—most of whom love to text. I hope by speaking to the students about texting and being a distracted driver—I could potentially help save a life!
I am committed to giving back to the local community and speaking to young drivers is an opportunity to share information with teens that complements what the instructor, parents and police officers reinforce. I tell them that driving is a privilege that comes with great responsibility.
I’ve spoken at auto schools on a regular basis for years. But something interesting happened last week at Andover Auto School when I spoke with a large class during school vacation week. One of the students was texting in class and I walked over to him, grabbed his phone and the student was stunned! He was so focused on texting that he didn’t even know I walked over and I was standing next to him. I explained to the class: “See how focused your classmate was on his texting? He didn’t even know I was standing next to him! So imagine you’re texting while driving. You don’t want to be another statistic!”
We do some interesting math in class—formulas that students actually find fascinating—because they deal with something important to them. I put the formula on the board: if you’re texting (or take your eyes off the road) for only 4.6 seconds at 55 m.p.h. = 100 yards— the entire length of a football field. That is how far you’ve driven without seeing ahead of you which always surprises the students and perhaps is a “wake-up call.”
To make a point about the severe impact of crashes, I asked the students how much a car weighs—they guess 1500 lbs. The correct answer is approximately 3500 lbs. So I asked them to multiply the vehicle’s weight times the speed you are driving, and even at the speed limit, to imagine the impact of a crash in a 2500-pound car traveling at 55-65 miles an hour. I emphasize that “you have to have respect for the vehicle and respect for the road.”
At Pickwick Driver Education in Amesbury, about six students wanted to know how much car insurance would cost as their parents told them they would give them a car but they would be responsible for paying insurance. So we discussed the cost of car insurance and how much money they would need to make at their part-time jobs to cover the cost of car insurance and fuel. Now that’s eye-opening when they learn that what they make can barely cover those expenses, and usually not completely.
One of the students already bought a 1995 truck. He works for a landscaping company and a grocery store — an ambitious student with two part-time jobs! This student paid $1,800 for his truck and he wanted to know how much he would need to pay for insurance – about $1,500. That’s not what he expected based on the cost of the truck. But teens do pay more for insurance because of their higher risk.
I consider speaking at the driving schools not only an obligation, but a privilege – to have the opportunity to make an impact and an impression about the importance of driving safely. I have the opportunity to try to help teens avoid accidents and death by emphasizing the importance of not texting while driving. For parents and teens reading this, I hope you will reinforce this message with your young drivers and your friends and remember the example we as adults set for safe driving habits.
Drive safely and if you have not yet, take the pledge on the Jaffarian Facebook page.