MIDDLE TOWNSHIP — Driver’s education students at Middle Township High School start and end each class with a question.
For instance, how far do you stop from a school bus? Answer: 25 feet.
The questions remind the students about the rules of the road and prepare them for the state examination that will earn them driver’s licenses.
“We sometimes talk about real-world situations involving teens and what can happen. The biggest thing I try to stress is driving is easy, and that’s what makes it difficult,” said Matt Wolf, a health and physical education teacher at Middle Township High School.
Wolf guides his students through the state’s driver’s manual with his own dose of common sense to turn the students into good drivers.
Some are still 15 and working toward a special learner’s permit when they reach 16. At 17, they can then earn probationary licenses.
The discussions range from drinking and driving to distracted driving, “the biggest issues facing teen drivers,” Wolf said. Many of the students will go on to take a driver’s course with behind-the-wheel instruction, but while in class Wolf uses demonstrations to get the point across.
He’ll have students walk while texting to see how they react or have students walk behind each other 2 seconds apart to learn about safe driving distances.
“They see that maybe they can’t do two things at the same time,” Wolf said.
The class spends time going over the driver’s manual as Wolf prepares them for the test, hoping to develop safe driving habits along the way.
“Most accidents are avoidable, and they are motorist error,” Wolf tells them.
They talk about highway hypnosis and losing focus on the road as well as speed limits, intersections and the dangers of hydroplaning.
“Make sure you are aware of what’s going on around you,” Wolf reminds them.
Many of the students said the class was a good guide on what they will need when they get out of the classroom.
“I ask my mom questions sometimes and this class cleared up a lot of stuff,” said 15-year-old Elvin Davila, of Cape May Court House.
Davila has practiced in the driveway of his home and said he expects to be a careful driver “because I don’t trust the other people out there.”
Jim Versage, also 15, of Ocean View, said he was looking forward to driving so he can go wherever he wishes, admitting he’ll “probably be a fast driver.”
Tonya Greene, 15, of Whitesboro, said she’s a little nervous, but expects the class will help.
“Sometimes I get nervous, but I feel it’s going to get easier,” she said.
And the questions at the end should help.
At what speed can a vehicle start to hydroplane? The answer? 35 mph.
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