There are two events that I look forward to every year. The Progressive Motorcycle show, and the New York Auto show. For me there is nothing better than walking around the arena, examining the latest performance offerings. Sitting in the various vehicles taking in that “new car smell”, or sitting on a two-wheeled sports machine while imagining tossing it into a curve on some twisty road. This year however was a bit special. Toyota and Ryan Beatty have teamed up to promote TeenDrive365, a program designed to give parents the tools to speak with their teen about safe driving during their first year behind the wheel, and beyond.
Toyota had set up a special driving simulator with the specific intent to demonstrate how even slight distractions while driving can lead to negative, if not disastrous results. Opening the glove compartment, picking up a dropped phone, accessing the center console, all can be seen to take your focus off of the road and affect your driving. I had my teenaged son with me, so it was interesting to see his reaction behind the wheel and the impact on his control.
After our time with the simulator we were given the opportunity to speak directly with Ryan. Now I fully admit I’m not anywhere near his demographic, but it was obvious from the group of young ladies assembling to hear him perform that he’s pretty well known. Speaking with him you get the impression that he is genuinely invested in safer teen driving. The overall message he wants to get across is how serious it is to be behind the wheel, with other people both in the car and on the streets. As he said, “Your life is in my hands” and sometimes his friends don’t think about that. This isn’t his first experience as a safe driving spokesman. Previously he was a part of a campaign with AT&T focusing on not texting while driving. That involvement really made him aware of the overall need to enforce the importance of safe, responsible driving on teens. When the opportunity was presented to work with Toyota it just seemed to be the next logical step in presenting his platform.
It was a pleasure meeting this young man. He seems genuinely interested in helping promote his cause. Most of all he has an honest, likable quality about him, not yet ruined by fame or fortune. While we were sitting there, surrounded by all sorts of luxury/sport vehicles, I asked him what type of car would he like to drive? His response? “A Toyota Prius. I never had to think about gas prices before, but man, it’s expensive!” There was something very refreshing about that response. He definitely has some vocal talent, so with any luck gas prices won’t be a concern for long.