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A cautionary tale

Jody Gould is a nurse at Overland Park Regional Medical Center. A former coworker sent her an email about a class called RoadWise. The class was targeted toward young drivers and focused on making safe decisions behind the wheel. On a Friday in July, Jody drove her son Carson, a freshman at Blue Valley Southwest High School, to Centerpoint Medical Center.

Carson began his Friday in a classroom discussing the brain and spinal cord andtheir importance to the functions of the body. Health educators presented important information and statistics concerning distracted driving and speeding.

“They said you’d travel the length of a football field if you take your eyes off the road for five seconds.” Carson said.

“A lot can happen in that distance.” Jody added.

The class moved to the emergency room (ER) where nurses explained what typically happens when a car crash victim is rushed to their care. Carson saw the machines and devices the team of nurses uses to strip patients of their clothing, rid their stomachs of substances and secure them to a bed during operations.

After an intense visit to the ER, Carson’s class made trips to the radiology department and intensive care unit (ICU). Radiology staff described the severity of car crash victims’ injuries, showing x-rays of damaged brains and severed spines. Staff in the ICU talked about caring for car crash patients after ER procedures and radiology results had decided their fate. When the class returned to their classroom, physical and occupational therapists demonstrated the tools and methods they use to help brain and spinal cord injured patients relearn how to feed themselves, dress themselves and live as independently as possible.

Carson broke for lunch and then heard stories from people who have survived a car crash but sustained lifelong injures.

“We heard first hand experiences from people who have gone through that. They explained how much it costs and the impact it had on friends and family.”

The class wrapped up with a visit from local law enforcement. They talked about reporting to car crash scenes and the daunting task of making death notifications to families.

Jody picked Carson up from Centerpoint fully expecting him to be annoyed that he was forced to attend yet another class related to driving. But when Carson got in the car, he started talking.

“We had a 40-minute drive home and he talked the entire way home. He quoted the statistics and told me about the survivors’ stories. He specifically
said, ‘I know one thing I’m never going to do and that is text and drive.’ He was passionate about all of the information and understood how he was going to apply it to his own driving,” Jody said.

Jody signed Carson up for RoadWise because she wanted Carson to have as much knowledge as possible before he gets behind the wheel.

“I think, sometimes, unless you see it for yourself, it doesn’t sink in. He’s a visual learner, so I thought maybe it would suit him well.” And it did.

“I’ve seen the commercials that tell you not to text and drive. But they don’t really explain the stuff behind it. In this class you actually see what happens to you when you physically get hurt,” Carson said.

Because of RoadWise, the Goulds are taking a new approach to driving. They talked about putting their phones in the glove box, out of reach. Carson is going to avoid the radio.

“I definitely want to take precautions. It’s scary to think it could happen to me,” Carson said. “I didn’t expect the class to be nearly as good as it was. I learned a ton from it.”

The Research Foundation offers RoadWise to young drivers during the summer. Click here for more information and dates of upcoming classes.