JA program encourages safe habits behind wheel

Published 6:00 pm Tuesday, March 29, 2011

He failed a few elementary classes, childhood sickness left himdeaf, and his son’s fatal car accident allowed Driver BehaviorSpecialist Syd Muzzy to connect with Brookhaven Academy studentsMonday morning through personal stories maybe better than anytextbook or video ever could.

“You never think it will happen to you,” said Kim Pace, eventcoordinator and Junior Auxiliary Life Choices Committee member.”You do think you’re indestructible, but you’re not.”

JA sponsored the drivers’ education presentation with help fromWal-Mart and Cellular South. BA seventh- through twelve-gradersfilled the gymnasium and listened to, as well as interacted with,the show.

Subscribe to our free email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“We really hope that we can start developing good drivingbehaviors,” said Pace. “The program is more geared toward studentsabout to be on the road.”

The hour-long demonstration was unique. Muzzy did not showhorrific pictures, bash texting and driving or make the studentsfill out a promise to behave responsibly on the road.

Instead, his message was practical and personal.

“They’re old enough and (able) to make the right decisions,”said Muzzy.

Through different activities the specialist demonstrated thelimitations of the human brain.

He demonstrated how the mind is unable to process multiplecomplex tasks at once. He explained to the students why vehiclesspin or roll and why people are unable to stop on a dime.

“We have to be aware of our human reactions of what we can andcan’t do,” said Muzzy. “What the car can and can’t do.”

The idea was that by showing students how long it takes for avehicle to stop, how the tires’ contact with the road impacts theability to control a vehicle and how easily distracted we canbecome, the young drivers or drivers-to-be will be less likely todevelop poor habits while behind the wheel of a car.

“Every time we get away with a chance (the brain) is rewarded,”said Muzzy. “Every time we reward the brain we’re more apt to doit.”

As he lifted up his red-colored shirt and revealed an “S” on hischest, Muzzy displayed the reason why people make bad decisionswhile driving. He retold the sad story of his son’s car accidentand the influence it had on him to demonstrate that we are notsuperhuman.

“It can happen,” said Muzzy. “That’s why I tell the story aboutmy son.”

Muzzy is no stranger to teaching. He has spent 40 years ineducation, including several years coaching and five years as avice principal. He has been bringing his behavioral messages tohigh school students for 15 years.

“I retired 10 years ago and I’ve been working ever since,” saidMuzzy.

JA has brought plenty of programs to area schools, but this isthe first time the organization has brought a drivers’ educationcourse to students. The show will move to Brookhaven High School,Lincoln County schools, a few Pike County schools and will wrap upin Loyd Star on Friday.

“We thought this year would be great because of proms andgraduations,” said Pace.

With hundreds of thousands of drivers on the road, the recentdemonstration is another addition to Wal-Mart’s list of drivers’education courses. Wal-Mart Safety Manager David Simmons hopes thecourse will encourage students to be safe on the road.

“We inhale safety,” said Simmons. “Our mission is to make safetycontagious.”