Thursday October 20, 2011
SB High School senior T.J. Anania believes, “You can’t possibly text and drive.”
On October 5, he and his peers had a chance to see why as over 50 SBHS students participated in Ford Motor Company’s Driving Skills for Life, a national safety initiative created in 2003 by Ford Motor Company, the Governors Highway Safety Association, and a panel of safety experts.
“Vehicle crashes are the number one killer of American teenagers, claiming nearly 5,000 lives each year,” explained George Rooney, SBHS driver educator. “Crash rates are highest during a teen’s first few hundred miles on the road. While buckling up and staying sober are fundamental rules drivers need to follow, this program focuses on skills necessary for safe driving.”
Those skills, continued Mr. Rooney, include the following: (1) distractions/ hazard recognition, (2) vehicle handling, (3) space management, and (4) speed management.
“This is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for the students to ensure that they learn skills to help make them better, safer drivers,” explained Vanessa LeBlanc, spokesperson for the Ford Motor Company.
Students seemed to agree. At three different stations set up in the SBHS senior parking lot, students—working closely with driving safety experts as well as members of the SB Police Department—tried driving around safety cones while texting, while wearing fatal vision glasses (designed to impair vision on a level equivalent to being twice the legal limit for alcohol consumption), and while handling a vehicle especially designed to spin out easily.
“I couldn’t even see the cones,” explained senior Emily Dickinson of her experience wearing the fatal vision glasses.
“It is definitely worth your time,” noted senior David Adams when asked what message he would give underclassmen about the day.
“I think it’s awesome,” stated Linda Sprano, grandmother of senior Kristin Benoit, who had come to watch the experience. “I’m so grateful Kristin’s participating. It teaches them so much.”
“Our students being safe drivers is important to all of us” read a note that came home to families from SBHS Principal Patrick Burke and Mr. Rooney, and offering the Driving Skills for Life experience to SBHS students showed the truth of these words.
For more information on the driving safety program, please go to www.drivingskillsforlife.com.
SOURCE: Susie Merrick, Contributor