With the ongoing teen driving accidents on and off school campuses, the San Ramon Valley Unified School District (SRVUSD) has decided to implement a new system for students who wish to obtain an on-campus parking permit to emphasize driving safety.
SRVUSD has partnered Street Smarts and California Highway Patrol (CHP), who sponsor the Start Smart Program for students to understand the serious laws, obligations, responsibilities, and family expectations that come with driving. It is available on all SRVUSD high school campuses. Students and their parents must attend one, free two-hour class in order to purchase a parking permit for next school year and all the following school years.
“This class is so necessary because the realities of driving a vehicle on the roadways amongst millions of other drivers with little to no experience is the most dangerous thing a young person will do,” Brandon Correia, Contra Costa CHP Officer and presenter of the program, said. “Starting off with smart pointers and getting teen drivers to open their eyes to the real dangers of driving, while having fun in the class, is very important to the CHP because all of us and our families are out on the roadways.”
Last spring, Superintendent Rick Schmitt requested the class come to SRVUSD because he had success in his previous school district in Southern California. Principal Kevin Ahern believes this class will be successful because it allows students to gain accountability for themselves instead of the school controlling students’ actions.
“All I can do is remind students to be responsible, wherever they are,” Ahern said. “When people see a mustang sticker on the back of a car in an accident, it comes back to [Monte Vista]. We should always ask ourselves, ‘how can we be responsible and show that we’re mindful of our activities to give back to our community?’ That’s how this program got here.”
Currently, many students stay on campus after school due to aggressive driving and traffic in the parking lot or on the road. Senior Serena Chan witnessed dangerous drivers when she has left immediately after school. Now, she studies in the library, so traffic can tame down.
“There are reckless drivers who are constantly trying to rush home,” Chan said. “I’m easily overwhelmed and not an aggressive driver. Staying after school makes time more beneficial because I can talk to friends and do homework.”
The goal of this Start Smart program is for teens to recognize the truth of driving and promote safe driving habits around SRVUSD schools.
“Our hope is to open teen drivers’ eyes to the harsh realities that happen every day on the roadway and to get them to consciously make better decisions to enjoy their lives,” Correia said. “Be the leader, not the follower.”