As I closed out my ministry at Triumph this summer I had an opportunity to take a few students out go-karting. That sounds fun, and it was. I did my best to pass the finish line before them and at times to rub bumpers and to cut in front of them because that’s how that works.
After we left the go-kart track, I joked and said something like, “I wasn’t driving you to Jesus too hard, was I?” (I was hinting with that question that I wasn’t trying to kill them while we raced.)
As I said that, it got me to think about the driving safety steps that we take as we work with students.
Before I get to that, when I was a young driver, I was convinced that I was invincible to other drivers, the weather and even myself. Can you relate to that?
That was not a good way to drive. And the truth is that no matter how good a driver you are, there will always be things that can happen that are completely out of our control.
Sometime around the summer of 2003 I was a part of a multi-church missions trip in Mexico that drove from Minnesota to Mexico. I vividly remember watching as the van driving in front of the one I was driving all of a sudden swerved and moments later quickly pulled over.
As they were driving in Texas, a random pickup truck carrying junk had a steel chair pop out of the pickup truck’s bed and land on the road which the van in front of me tried unsuccessfully to avoid. They hit the chair and it caused four digits worth of damage to our rental van.
It’s hard to prepare for the things that we can’t foresee, but with experience and practice we become readier to respond well when those things do happen.
So, what safety steps can we take as we drive during our student ministry events?
- Have all drivers do a driving background check via your insurance company a third-party background check company
- Always conform to the minimum driver’s age prescribed by your insurance company
- Develop a driver’s policy for all staff and chaperones in conjunction with your church’s leadership
- Have secondary drivers with, in case your primary driver gets sick or hurt, and for longer trips have plenty of drivers, so they can take turns resting
- Insist that students wear seatbelts and that they keep their hands inside the vehicle
- Research the safety issues related to 15-passenger vans (especially while pulling trailers)
- When stopping, periodically perform safety checks of all equipment
- Minimize distractions (noise, music, kids goofing off)
- Utilize release forms for off-campus events in the event of an incident
- Carry a first aid kit on board
- Have a passenger or secondary driver manage all communications (telephone calls, walkie-talkies)
- Use a GPS if needed
- Only use vehicles that are road worthy
- Obey all traffic laws
- Have your drivers participate in any safety courses available through your insurance company
- Discuss with drivers prior the financial ramifications of deductibles if an incident were to happen
What policies and practices would you add to this list?
Proverbs 14:16 – One who is wise is cautious and turns from evil, but a fool is reckless and careless.