Making the Roads SaferNJM Sponsoring Statewide Teen Driver Safety Program*Photo Courtesy of NJ Cops Magazine, the official publication of the NJ State PBA.The Wayne Hills High School Driver’s Education students got the message. New Jersey Manufacturer’s Insurance (NJM) Teen Driver Safety Officer Carsten Boethig was in the midst of his safe driving presentation when he came to the part with the video about distracted driving. A mother was on screen talking about her son who was paralyzed at eight years old when a woman hit their car while driving and trying to send a text message.
“Everybody was quiet and somber. I think we were shocked,” said Brittany Krugel, a Wayne Hills sophomore who was a student in the class. “He told us how this family was changed forever, and I think the most shocking part was that everything can change in that short of time.”
In acknowledgment of its 100th anniversary, NJM recently introduced a Teen Driver Safety Program for New Jersey high schools. New Jersey Manufacturers Insurance has been committed to safety since it was founded in 1913.
In continuation of that mission, Boethig, who recently retired following a 25-year career with the NJ State Police, is making presentations that range from 20 to 90 minutes for classrooms with just a few students to auditoriums with hundreds of attendees. The topics he covers include driving distractions, such as texting, alcohol and drugs, and outside-the-vehicle distractions; real-world examples of teens who were seriously injured or who were killed in auto accidents; and New Jersey motor vehicle laws.
“These presentations include compelling videos, sobering statistics, and much, much more,” Boethig said. “Best of all, these presentations are free, and I hope educators throughout New Jersey will take advantage of this program, as it comes at no cost to them or the taxpayers.” Boethig has 12 years of experience as a road duty Trooper and has investigated and assisted with many serious and fatal crashes. He has served in various areas, including The Motor Vehicle Racing Control Unit, The Traffic and Public Safety Bureau and The Highway Traffic Safety Unit.
In addition, Boethig served 1.5 years as the Unit Head of the School and Traffic Safety Unit. In this role, he was responsible for enforcement and education of Teen Driver Safety as well as the supervision of the Troopers who were assigned to high schools as School Resource Officers. He maintains relationships with the Traffic and Public Safety Bureau of the State Police, the NJ Division of Highway Traffic Safety and the New Jersey Police Traffic Officers Association.
“I hope that my real-world experience will help young drivers develop safe habits while operating or occupying a motor vehicle,” said Boethig. “Making the roads safer is a benefit to all residents of New Jersey, including NJM’s 460,000 Personal Auto policyholders.” The video in the presentation about the boy who was paralyzed continues with his mother explaining how she has to sleep at his bedside in case something goes wrong with the life-support system that helps him breathe. Boethig went on to describe how eating while driving, having the radio turned up and anything moving can be a driving distraction that leads to a tragic accident. “I think we all kind of realized how far it can go,” Krugel added. “It was definitely a great session, learning that 90 percent of driving is visual, how much concentration it takes and that any little thing can be the difference between being a safe driver and a non-safe driver.”
Boethig’s presentation also covers the NJ “Move Over” Law, road rage, and he shows a video featuring former New Jersey Governor John Corzine talking about the importance of wearing a seatbelt. Corzine talks about how he spent eight days in intensive care following an auto accident in which he wasn’t wearing his seatbelt. “That was another life-changing thing,” Krugel said. “I used to be a person who always complained to my mom about wearing a seatbelt. Now, I don’t even think about it. I just put it on.”
This initiative is fully funded by NJM in a continued effort to maximize safety on New Jersey’s roadways for all who travel on them.
“We hope Carsten will visit as many schools as possible to help in the adoption of safe driving habits by New Jersey’s teens,” said Bernie Flynn, President and CEO of NJM. “The safety initiatives we’ve launched in 2013 will hopefully help define NJM’s legacy over the next hundred years.”Editor's Note: NJM is a NJASA Diamond Sponsor.
Police officers can talk with school guidance counselors, principals, and/or driving instructors about scheduling a free presentation at school. Call Boethig at 609-433-5859 or send an e-mail to him atCBoethig@njm.com to schedule a free Teen Driver Safety Presentation. Visit NJM.com/Teen-Driver-Safety for more details.