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On April 14, 2012, I delivered my tenth speech as a member of Toastmasters International.  This speech qualifies me as a Competent Communicator


We are approaching that time of year when our friends head off on vacation, our children head off for summer adventures and our teenagers go out on that coming of age experience called prom.  As a retired teacher, Rick Lakin has always believed that we can do more than just worry.  Today, he will persuade us that “Safety doesn’t happen by Accident.”
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Safety Doesn’t Happen by Accident

On April 4th, two teenagers died in a car crash on Route 52 when a 16 year old lost control of his car at a speed in excess of 90 miles an hour.  Allegedly, he was racing with another teen. There were 4 teenagers in the car.

How many of you have had a friend or relative suffer a loss or injury because of an issue of unsafe behavior?

For me, safety has always been an important issue especially when I was serving on submarines.  At times the pressure on the hull was over 500 pounds per square inch and the only thing keeping the water out of the people tank was our good training, our good sense and our constant attention to safety.

We are approaching summer, a time of adventure, a time to stretch our limits, a time when youngsters are leaving the nest to ride their bikes on the street for the first time, going on a class trip, going to prom or going to college.  As parents and friends, we see each of these endeavors as fraught with peril, opportunities for bad choices and evil dangers lurking around every corner

But our children and our friends and we ourselves sometimes forget about safety.  We might be distracted by “more important” things. Our friends might feel that “just one more drink” might not prevent them from driving safely.  Our children and grandchildren might look at us and think, “I am going to live forever and there is nothing that can prevent us from getting as old as you”  The numbers say that you,  your friends  and your kids are right.   Most of the time.

Prom night is coming up for 17 and 18 year old children all around the country.  How do we promote safety?   I bet some of you remember this.  In 1964, WLWT in Cincinnati produced The Last Prom.

“The Last Prom” opens on a demolished car resting in front of a small high school. “There is a deadly fascination about a wrecked car,” the narrator tells us as the camera cuts to the car’s blood smeared windshield. “Was it a pretty face that made this gaping, jagged hole in the windshield?” In the story, the joyful couple is speeding carelessly along, Bill plows into a tree. Sandy goes through the windshield after her Last Prom.
How many of you saw that film in Driver’s Ed class?  I don’t know if it saved any lives but it sure set a high standard for later slasher movies like halloween and Friday the 13th part 27.

Kids see blood and gore everywhere on TV and in video games but ask yourself this:   How often does a teenager hear an adult tell them that they care about safety?

I produced the daily TV show at Hilltop High School and the Friday before prom, I had all of my hosts talk about safety and use the words, “This is personal, don’t drink and drive and don’t ride with anyone who does.”  My anchors shared the message,  I appeared on the show and even the principal came on and stated the same message.  I take it personally.  Be safe come back safely after prom.

Here is my important message.  If you tell your loved ones that you care about their safety, if you tell them that you want them to act safely, if you tell them that you will accept nothing less than their safe return, they might spend a moment thinking about this.  Hopefully, that moment will come at the same time that they are considering some risky behavior like having another drink, responding to a text while they are driving, getting in a car with someone who has been drinking or driving another hour into the night when they are too tired.

We all worry about our friends and our kids when they go off to live their lives but we never know what we can do.  Here is my suggestion.   To paraphrase John Maxwell, “People do not care how much you worry until they know how much you care.”