It’s a right of passage, teens getting their licence but it comes with responsibilities and consequences.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accents are the leading cause of death for U.S. Teens, accounting for more than one in three teenage deaths.
In Shelby County the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis is hoping to reduce those numbers by offering teens the opportunity to take part in the UPS Road Code program.
“We don’t want to scare them,” said Crystal Caulfield, Career Prep Director at Juice Plus Technical Training Center Boys and Girls Club of Greater Memphis. “We want to make them aware of what’s going on in the world around them. We want them to understand that there are things they can do to keep themselves safer.”
The program is taught by UPS employees trained as volunteer instructors. UPS Road Code provides teens with a combination of classroom-based instruction and practice time using a virtual driving simulator.
“We’ve had more than 500 teen graduates since we partnered with UPS,” said Caulfield.
Ariel Thomas, a 17-year-old from the Memphis area is currently enrolled in one of the classes.
“It’s really helpful,” said Thomas. “Right now, we just want the rush and feeling of having a car, going around, meeting people and stuff like that but we don’t know the consequences behind it.”
She is learning the consequences of distracted driving via the program’s driving simulator.
Thomas crashed when a virtual person walked out in front of her and when a text message popped up on the screen.
“It’s showing you another perspective of driving,” said Thomas.
Thomas plans to graduate from the program and then she will take the next step towards getting her license.
“It’s really exciting,” said Caulfield. “Our teens have told their mom to stop texting and driving or they turn down the radio for their friends when they’re out. We’ve heard stories of them telling everyone to put on their seat belt. It’s made them more aware, which has made the greater community more aware.”