The Safe Driving class is an educational program designed to teach participants about the human consequences of unsafe, impaired and/or distracted driving. Participants learn how unsafe driving affects them, their family, and members of their community. A panel of people who have either injured others or themselves during a car crash speak during the last portion of the program.
The program was originally designed by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. We have modified the original program to focus on all types of behavior that impact road safety. We want to emphasize that we see a difference between the behavior (the deed) of driving while impaired or distracted and the person who does it. We are addressing the behavior and not condemning the person.
The course also requires participants to develop a safe driving plan that is reviewed by their peers. This safe driving paln is a component of course completion. The course reinforces the idea that driving is a privilege, not an automatic right, and as such should only be undertaken when the driver can function at his or her best. It aims to reinforce good decision making and explores motivations for behavioral change.
Dan Ridgway is now the Safe Driving program Coordinator, he will work with a BCJC staff to deliver this panel in Brattleboro three to four times a year.
“I am committed to keeping our roads safe by assuring drivers are not doing anything that impairs their ability to drive safely. A person who drives while legally intoxicated creates a hazard for all of us using the highways. I believe the Victim Impact Panel does change participants’ views and beliefs about drinking and driving. That is why I am part of running these panels.” – Larry Hames, Former Executive Director, BCJC
From feedback I’ve received the DUI VIP program really reaches DUI offenders in ways that other programs don’t. Participants start to get it that drinking and driving wrecks too many lives in so many ways- and not just their own. The costs and impacts, personally and societally, are vast and long-lasting.
VIP makes a distinction between drinking versus drinking and driving. Individuals are making a choice when they drink and get behind the wheel of a car and with that choice comes responsibility. To that end, participants discuss practical ideas and make realistic plans for how not to get behind the wheel of a car after drinking; plans which are probed and challenged not just by facilitators but also by fellow DUI offenders.
The most important thing I learned from the program is…
“Everybody pays for one’s mistake.”
“It COULD happen to me.”
“We make the choice, or not; Its within our power to prevent further ‘crashes.'”
“As an adult mother and wife I take responsibility for my choices and actions. I will be a good example for my children and pass on the tools I have learned from this experience.”
“…I didn’t know any of the speakers but I could relate to absolutely everybody’s story.”
The Safe Driving program is an opportunity for people who have been harmed by reckless driving as well as participants in those incidents to share their stories and personal experiences. Speakers find participating helpful in the healing process and can influence those listening to make better choices.
Survivors of DUI crashes tell the stories of their lives, as they have been and continue to be affected by these tragedies.
“Of course, by far the most powerful aspect of the Safe Driving program are the victim speakers. I’ve heard time and again from participants that it is the victims’ stories and their courage to speak and share of themselves which has the most impact on program participants. All of the participants are a brother, sister, mother, father, child, or parent and can relate to the pain of that kind of loss. Participants learn that choices are powerful. “- Jackie Trepanier, Program Coordinator , Reparative Panelist
Safe driving is a community responsibility and the Safe Driving Program allows participants to engage in exercises that illustrate the financial, personal and emotional impact of unsafe driving. Consistent with best practices and restorative justice principles, the Safe Driving Program requires that the voices of victims of unsafe driving be brought into the program. Through activities and discussion program participants are given the opportunity to understand the profound consequences of unsafe driving on the community, their families, and themselves. Throughout the two-evening course, the curriculum reinforces the accountability of the individual while exploring avenues and ways to make amends to those who may have been harmed.
Survivors of DUI crashes in Vermont tell the stories of their lives
as they have been, and continue to be, affected by these tragedies.