Send Message Of Caution

Readers write

March 31, 1991

From: Charlotte O. Beam

Ellicott City

Defensive driving, together with the book of rules, is a necessary caution for every driver of every age and experience.

This is a lesson learned by trial and error which can be destructive and fatal if not learned soon enough.

The tragedy of the loss of a daughter of our community, Andrea Barlow, has saddened and become very personal to every parent and grandparent, her family, friends and teachers.

Although the circumstances of the accident are nebulous and still under investigation, knowing the daily violation of speed limits and safety, surely the urging for caution by her fellow student drivers at Centennial High School should be emphasized as a major course.

This is a time of ribbon messages -- the yellow honoring the return ofour soldiers, the red against drunk driving.

Perhaps the friends knowing Andrea's favorite color can promote every student of Centennial High to find a place for "her ribbon" near the mirror of their cars, to honor her memory with the message of caution.


From: I. Doris O'Neil

Ellicott City

When I first learned of the tragic accident in front of Centennial High School involving a young driver, my vision instantly focused on the intersection ofWaterford Road and the school parking lot entrance.

It was a natural reaction for me, because I spent many years explaining the dangers associated with that intersection to hundreds of student drivers.

Of course, that was before its reconstruction, which has made the intersection more difficult to traverse safely.

As the details of the accident were circulated, my shock quickly turned to helplessnessand despair, not only for the students and their families, but for all the loss of life and injury to our youngsters of late.

The article in The Howard County Sun ("Road death spurs PTA lobby for return of driver ed," March 10) renews the anger and resentment I felt when the PTA, in 1986-1987, offered only weak support to keep driver education in the school curriculum, where it was overseen by educators!

The PTA was alerted at that time to the concerns of quality driver training for profit.

I wrote numerous articles lobbying for its continuance in student schedules.

When I put copies of them in the then-PTA representative's mailbox at Centennial High School, I receivedno response.

The representative at Mount Hebron High indicated his empathy for the situation; however, his primary concern was for class-size reduction.

Finally, when I called Karen Campbell, who was then the Howard County PTA council president, to solicit her assistance, she made it very clear that the driver education program was not high on her political agenda, which included plans to run for the Howard County Board of Education the next year.

Well, you can bet she did not get my vote.

Perhaps she perceived driver education witha small "d," much the same way she perceived coaches with a small "t"?

In late 1987, Sandra French asked the school board to restore the driver education program.

Apparently, the support was not there. Her requests went nowhere.

The proposal in 1989 for parent-funded driver's education likewise fell apart.

Parents, this program isbeing held hostage! Recognize it and organize a defense. In lieu of stealth fighters and Patriot missiles, perhaps your smart weapons could be yourselves.

If the program is worth having, it is worth fighting for; do not let your kids down again. Enlist their support. Circulate petitions, and you be the ground troops; stand up to the Board of Education. Your smart weapons here can be your vote!

I must admit my amusement to the board chairwoman's comment, paraphrased, that "the former driver education supervisor is retired and the whole infrastructure would have to be put back into place."

Well, it seems to me the Board of Education chief assistant superintendent No. 1 retired too, and we are hearing from him, aren't we? Who knows, he could become another smart weapon, as No. 1 General!

If you find yourself asking, "Who are you?", I am someone who cares a great deal. I am happy in my current position with the Board of Education, but I cannotlet go of my care for young drivers.

I spent 10 years, along withmy contemporaries, developing the best student drivers that I possibly could. I was in the position to keep an eye on them around school.When I saw them making mistakes in driving, they heard about it. Andfrequently, so did their parents!

This short verse, from "The Bridge Builder" by Will Allen Dromogoole says it all for me:

"The builder lifted his old gray head.

'Good friend, in the path I have come,' he said,

'There followeth after me today

A youth whose feet must pass this way.

The chasm that was nought to me

To that fair-haired youth may a pitfall be:

He, too, must cross in the twilight dim --

Good friend, I am building this bridge for him."

Editor's note: The writer is a former driver education paraprofessional.


From: Anita M. Iribe


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