April 16, 2012

Mentoring for Boys Driving Fast

In the Man-Making book, I profile a lot of men who turn their personal interests into opportunities for connecting with young guys. This provides a chance for shared interests, training in important life skills, hang time with a man or men, and for the development of a male ally. In a world experiencing an epidemic of, what I term, under-male-nourished-boys, this approach to guiding boys toward a responsible manhood is full of wins for all the males involved. Sometimes it even saves lives.

Jay Gubrud is a friend of mine, and a man who loves driving BMW automobiles. He is a member of the BMW Car Club of Minnesota, a group that has a focus on safe and skillful driving. Through the club, Jay learned the National Highway Traffic Administration statistics say motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among teenagers in the United States. In addition, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports crash risk for drivers sixteen and seventeen years old is three times as great as it is for a nineteen and twenty-year-olds. In every age category, the car crash and death statistics are worse for boys than girls. Those numbers got Jay’s attention and he decided to do something.
In every age category,
the car crash and death statistics
are worse for boys than girls.
Like most teens, Jay had developed an early love of driving fast. He said he wished he’d had a high-performance driving program available to him in adolescence, when his love of driving was blooming. In Jay’s words, "My dad had no interest in driving or performance driving so I had to learn from the school of hard knocks. If there would have been someone steering me toward safe driving at that point in my life, I’d have had a lot fewer problems." Just like Jay, most teens find out the limitations of their driving skills on public roads, surrounded by other vehicles, in dangerous real-world conditions, and often with the police involved. He saw a big need to help teenagers become more skillful drivers.

As a direct result of his passion, Jay partnered with the Minnesota Chapter of the BMW Car Club of America to create the Safe Teen Driving Program. Initially, the program put fourteen Minneapolis and St. Paul area teens in the capable hands of instructors from the BMW Club. These people led the students through classroom and on-road training. Instead of taking risks on the street, the kids were able to develop their skills and discover the limits of their vehicles on a safe and custom-made track. Since that first event, hundreds of Minnesota teens have successfully completed this program. While all teens, regardless of gender, need to learn how to become the best possible drivers, young male drivers, with their tendencies for testing their limits and risk-taking in general, stand to gain the most from this kind of training.

Because of his passion for driving, Jay not only helped to create a solid mentoring program for kids, in the process, he very likely prevented serious injury or death for a teenage boy or girl. His story gets even better, however. The BMW Car Club of America used much of the Safe Teen Driving Program in the development of a national program now called Street Survival.

To learn what causes teenage drivers to be such risky drivers, check out this list of primary risk factors. Also, consider how an interest, hobby, or passion of yours might touch the lives of a few kids in your community. You just never know where it might take you.

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1 comment:

  1. Tim W.3:39 PM

    Another great blog post!

    In my gender equity education presentations, I talk about the fact that males have a higher mortality (death) rate than females right from birth, but the greatest difference is ages 15-24, when the male death rate is around 190% higher (3 males to 1 female). These are old stats but I suspect they are still pretty accurate.

    The four leading causes of death for young men are: violence, accidents (like driving fast/crazy!), drugs, and suicide. Suicide is interesting: most suicide attempts are a desperate pleading for help ("I'm hurting so much that death seems better than living."). Boys/men are discouraged from asking for help, while it's much more acceptable for girls/women to admit (to themselves) and acknowledge (to others) that they need help.

    Last time I looked (years ago), females attempted suicide 3-to-1 compared to males, but males killed themselves 5-to-1 compared to females (by using more violent means).


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