Montana Highway Patrol Trooper Brenda Timm knows firsthand the pain a family feels at the loss of a young driver.
When her nephew was 21, he died in a car crash, with speed as a contributing factor.
“It was very, very devastating,” she said. “My family will never be the same. Holidays are not the same. He was my only brother’s only son. He was 21 years old. He was in the military, he had just gotten married. He had his whole life in front of him.”
Her nephew’s story is one she shares with her students. Timm teaches a defensive-driving course for drivers between the ages of 15 and 24 called Alive at 25. The course was created by the National Safety Council, and Timm is one of many troopers in Montana to lead classes. It took four days of training for her to learn how to teach the four-hour class, which involves the students in an interactive manner.
“It’s not going to be a boring four-hour class,” she said. “We break the kids into groups and we do some problem solving. They watch some informative videos, we do some role-playing.”
Students in the defensive-driving classes include drivers who have been court-ordered to attend, ones sent by their parents to students, and those who want to learn defensive driving techniques.
Timm, who is the mother of a 16-year-old and a 17-year-old, is familiar with the statistics for young drivers. Drivers in the 15- to 24-year-old age group are 83 percent more likely to be in crashes, she said. Young adult drivers are involved in more than 6 million accidents each year.
One in four people in that age group will be killed by a train,” she said. “That is a very shocking statistic. Why is that happening?”
That is something, she said, she had her students sit down and try to puzzle out.
“They just really have stop and think why is that happening,” she said. “They have to put themselves in that situation.”
Timm will an Alive at 25 class from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 10 in the Missouri Room of the Student Union Building on the Montana State University Billings campus. Prospective students need to call Timm at 697-7815 to register for the free class, which is open to 24 students.
“It can’t take the place of driver’s education, but it’s a great complement to driver’s ed,” Timm said. “All the kids love the class because it is so interactive.”
Timm doesn’t teach the class because she was required to. She volunteered for the position.
“I just feel like I want them to know that I care about them and I don’t want to see happen to them and their families what statistics show is happening,” she said. “I do know how it feels and that’s why it’s easy for me to be so passionate about this. I don’t want this to happen to my kids, to my friends’ kids, to the kids in my community.”