August 2018 • Welcome Home www.welcomehomesa.com 44 T hink back to when you first got your driver’s license. Do you remember the excitement? The sense of freedom and independence that accompanied that jingling set of keys in your hand? It’s a milestone, to say the least, but it’s also a very perilous time in a teen’s life. There’s no way to ensure your teen or young driver’s safety every time he or she gets behind the wheel, but there are ways to minimize distraction and encourage safe driving habits. The responsibility to instill safe driving habits in teens lies primarily on the parents and other experienced drivers in their lives, but at Johnson High School, there’s an added layer of reinforcement provided by the PTSASmart Driving Club. The Smart Driving Club was founded in August 2012 by parent sponsor Melinda Cox whose daughter was just beginning to drive. Melinda was concerned about the number of distracted drivers she regularly observed on the road. “I decided to start the Johnson High School Smart Driving Club as a way to be proactive in regards to driver safety,” explained Melinda. “I didn’t want to just complain about the distracted drivers in San Antonio, so I set forth on a path to help make my friends, family and community safer.” The club started out with only three members – Melinda’s daughter and two of her daughter’s friends. However, that first year, the club was able to connect with other groups, and resonate with the Johnson campus, students, and staff. “We began to realize that we could develop and utilize different platforms to push out a safe driving message,” said Melinda. Today, the club’s membership includes dozens of Johnson students. Their message and willingness to take action has truly made a difference. Ella Easley is the president of the Smart Driving Club. “I became involved in the club as a freshman because I saw it as an opportunity to have a voice in my community at a young age,” explained Ella. “The mission of the club is to advocate for safe driving. We help young drivers become empowered advocates for safe driving while working with the city, SAPD and other groups. We believe young drivers have the right to be safe on the road, so our club members work wherever they can to promote a safe driving message and remind drivers to keep their eyes on the road. Johnson Smart Driving Club has been recognized by the state for their contributions and message. They were involved in the passing of the city cell phone ordinance in 2014 which prohibits drivers from holding their phones while driving. The club has also worked with SAPD and NEISD to develop safe driving PSAs, two of which will be aired on the Jumbotron during sporting events. They have also developed multiple billboards to promote a safe driving message. D r i v e S a f e , J a g u a r s Johnson High School Smart Driving Club By Alissa Reinhard We help young drivers become empowered advocates for safe driving while working with the city, SAPD and other groups.” – Ella Easley President, Smart Driving Club “ Members of Johnson High School’s Smart Driving Club work alongside the SAPD to spread their message of the importance of safe driving without distractions.