After months and months of being the student, for the first time in my life I have stepped in front of a classroom as the teacher.I worked all summer and into early fall taking the drivers instructor course. Now, with my license on the wall, I stepped in front of my first class recently and started my new life as a driving instructor.
Anxiety Sets In
Now, I've been out with several students already for the "behind the wheel" portion of their training. But standing up there in front of a room full of mostly teenagers was a little daunting, and the part I was most nervous about. As I looked them all in the eye during the class I couldn't help but think, "They already hate me. They're bored out of their minds. They don't want to be here." And that is probably the case for some. For many. Maybe for most of them. But...I feel I have a very important task ahead of me. It's my job to try and convince these kids that driving is serious business. I told them that unless they plan a career as a chain-saw juggler, driving is likely the most dangerous thing they will ever do. Certainly on a regular basis.
It's All About The Message
Car crashes are far and away the number one killer of teenagers. And the MOST dangerous time for them is when they first get their license. I have to try and get that message to them and hope they take it seriously. Sadly, many won't. That's why driving is so dangerous for teens. They think nothing can hurt them. And they're so excited by the thought of loading as many of their friends as they can in the car and speeding off to wherever. And of course along the way they will keep in touch with all the friends that aren't in the car with them via their ever-present smartphones. And maybe along the way, they can find some way to score a couple of six packs to make the night really special.
Hope Is Alive
Teens are already at a high-risk as drivers because of their inexperience. Add to that the myriad distractions available to them. It's amazing any of them survive the first couple of years behind the wheel.As an instructor, I will warn them of the dangers. Show them what can happen if they don't behave in a responsible manner. And hope against hope, the message reaches at least some of them.
Making A Difference
I feel it's a pretty big responsibility; but one I welcome. I knew what I was signing up for when I decided to give this a go. I figure if I can get the message through to some of them, and put a few teens on the road that will actually drive responsibly, it's all worth it.