Save Our Teen Drivers

Advocating for driver's education changes. Educating the public on the problem. Finding a solution that saves lives.

Recap from yesterday’s class

Posted by lapearce on June 8, 2009

Students Cars all in a Row

Students' Cars all in a Row

We had a small class yesterday. This is becoming the norm in a year where we already had to cancel two classes from lack of enrollment. It’s the economy. This time last year the class was full. It saddens me when parents put their pocketbook before the safety of their children. If a defensive driving class helps a teen avoid one crash it has already paid for itself a number of times over.

Despite the smaller group, it was a good group. The majority of the drivers this month had their permits, and two of the girls had just barely started driving. They didn’t know the fundamentals of turning the steering wheel, using the gas or brake, let alone what the car, or they, were capable of doing.

In our first time down the course with one of the new drivers she started out with the steering wheel turned a bit. She gave it a little bit of gas and the car went off to the side. She just froze with her foot on the gas and her eyes locked straight ahead. I grabbed the steering wheel and told her to brake, then talked her into bringing the car back around. Because we were in a big, empty parking lot with nothing around this common beginner mistake was no problem. If it weren’t for classes like this, however, she could have learned that lesson on a busy road. It frightens me that we send out permitted drivers with no experience out there to learn on the road with everyone else. They need a calm, controlled environment to learn in, not the hectic, uncontrolled road.

At the other end of the spectrum we had a more experienced teen who was at the class to reel in an ego that was out of control behind the wheel. She thought she was God’s gift to driving. This is just as dangerous as the permitted drivers who didn’t know the first thing about steering wheel control. She was still inexperienced, but she thought she was experienced. At the end of the day she said, “With every cone I hit my ego deflated a little”. Good, goal reached.

All of the drivers made huge leaps and bounds of improvement through the course of the day. A girl afraid to hit her brakes learned the importance of ABS. The girl who couldn’t turn her car learned how much to turn the steering wheel based on the turn ahead. And the cocky girl lost her attitude.

Honorable mention also goes to one of our permitted drivers, Matt, who mastered his mom’s GM Yukon with expert skill. He had the highest hill to climb of all of our students because of how difficult his SUV is to drive, but he went into the class with a level head and was stellar at listening to what the car was telling him and not over working the car. Still, seeing such a small boy in such a large vehicle, I can’t help but wonder why parents continue to put their children in these dangerous SUVs. His mom is asking herself that same question as well. Matt may get another car before he turns 16. A smaller, lower, easier to handle one.

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