WEST SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP)– Boy Scouts from all over the state traveled to West Springfield this morning to get a unique lesson in driving safety. 22News found out why both parents and scouts felt these lessons are critical to start at an early age.
A lesson in how a car works, how to maintain it, and how to drive it safety were all happening at AAA’s Pioneer Valley West Springfield offices Saturday.
Dad, Mark Dimmatia, drove his youngest son two hours to come to the event where boy scouts from all over the state were earning their Traffic safety Merit Badge. As a paramedic who responds to frequent distracted driving car accidents, one of the day’s many safety lessons was at the top of his list.
“Not only for their benefit but if they get into the car with a friend that friend picks up a phone they have to be comfortable enough and confident enough to say ‘woah, no phones, no distracted driving’,” Dimmiatia said.
For soon to be 8th grader from Anthony Tessicini, from Agawam, the goggles that simulated your vision while intoxicated were the most impactful lesson of his day. “It’s crazy you know drinking and driving, I mean it’s just wrecking up your car, wrecking up your life, and you know you’re going to be in jail possibly, and you could be even in worse times,” Tessicini said.
The hands on approach to becoming a safe driver continued as the teens measured out safe breaking distances. They used measuring tape to figure out the distance away from the next car in front of you that you need to be in order to safely stop in case of emergency. At 30 miles an hour that distance is 43 feet.
AAA Pioneer Valley’s Vice President of Insurance, Steve Brochu, told 22News following last year’s event many of the parents said their teens were teaching them things they were doing wrong behind the wheel.
“It’s been a long time since most of us have been through driver’s ed, so we’ve picked up a lot of bad habits along the way so it’s good that the kids are paying attention,” Brochu said.
AAA reports that car crashes are the leading cause of death among people age 16 to 20, killing more than 5,600 teens each year in the United States.