Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Using "Cars" to teach about driver safety and other valuable lessons

As you're probably growing ever more aware of, especially if you have a young son who's prone to going through the toy department at Target, Cars 2 will be hitting theaters in June. Since Pixar is apparently genetically incapable of making a bad film, it goes to reason that the continued adventures of Lightning McQueen, Mater and others will be something both kids and adults will enjoy. However, I'm not here to promote the movie; there is no doubt Disney will do just fine in that area. Instead, a few illustrations from the original movie that can be used to both teach driver safety, as well as an appreciation for what the automobile has brought to American culture, are suggested.

It's never too early to start teaching kids the fundamentals of driver safety. While no one is advocating putting a six year old behind the wheel of the family car and letting them have at it, planting seeds is always worth the effort. In the movie, Doc Hudson challenges Lightning McQueen to a race on dirt. Lightning McQueen, overconfident in his abilities, takes off at the start of the race... and then runs off the course when he attempts to turn left and skids out of control. Doc Hudson mocks Lightning McQueen as he tells him that on a slick surface, such as a dirt track, in order to turn to the left you have to steer to the right. This creates a controlled skid. Which will most likely mean little to a six year old, but ten years from now when they find themselves hydroplaning on a rain-soaked freeway knowing what to do not solely from a half-slept through drivers education course, but through a beloved cartoon, can be a lifesaver. (As an aside, should you have a teen in the house having them watch this six-minute cartoon starring Goofy will most likely have a greater impact on their driving than any number of lectures.)

The other lesson one can take from Cars comes later on in the movie when Lightning McQueen, mostly through the efforts of Sally, learns about the freeway that used to go by the town of Radiator Springs before a super highway was built that bypassed the town. Take a moment to share with your children what this is referring to, namely Route 66. While to today's kids a car ride without DVDs to watch is as foreign as, well, Route 66 itself, much of Cars is devoted to Lightning McQueen discovering the past he never knew existed. Take the opportunity this offers to teach your children how to value and cherish what the past has to offer, when you can bringing in people who lived during the middle part of the last century to tell the stories first hand. For the musically inclined, picking up a copy of the CD Old Angel by a band named the Lost Dogs which plays a musical style generally referred to as Americana can also help. It's also available on iTunes.

It's not as hard as it may appear to teach about driving safety and the place the automobile has in American culture. Give it a spin. Without spinning out, of course.

1 comment:

  1. The new Fast that Furious movie "Fast Five" comes out at the end of the month. I was wondering if accidents involving youthful drivers (16 to 25 years old) will increase. Thanks for the post. I feel (and blogged about it last week) that movies effect or view of insurance.

    Thanks again Jerry great post!