Defensive driving class provides a win-win for AzGT and its employees

(BENSON) Every eight hours in Arizona, someone dies in a car crash. That estimate is based on the most recent 2017 data from the Arizona Department of Transportation, and means that during our work day, someone will likely be killed in a traffic accident in Arizona. Defensive driving is more than knowing when to swerve or braking just in time to avoid a crash. The lesson that Jeff Hallums delivers starts with every driver changing the same thing before getting behind the wheel: their attitude.

“The biggest predictor of behavior is our attitudes. It’s one of the reasons that we really try to focus on our attitudes in this class, because if someone can put their attitude in check, it makes them a safer driver,” said Hallums, CEO of EZ AZ Traffic Schools. “If they get behind the wheel angry, they’re going to be an angry driver. If they get behind sad, they’re not going to drive effectively.”

Jeff Hallums, CEO of EZ AZ Traffic Schools, teaches one of three defensive driving classes that were offered in the Benson boardroom March 18 and 19.

Hallums provides ticket dismissal classes on a regular basis; however, he brought his presentation to the Benson campus of Arizona Generation and Transmission Cooperatives(AzGT) on March 18 and 19 for the benefit of all the employees there. The two-hour class was scheduled at three different times.

“Everybody can take actions that are preventive actions. That’s what makes us defensive drivers: predicting in advance what might happen and taking action,” he said.

That includes planning when to leave to avoid the stress of hurrying or being late. Hallums showed the class that the Waze mobile phone app will tell people when they should leave in order to reach a destination by the desired time.

“I liked the Waze thing, that we could use that as a tool to not get stressed out about getting somewhere on time,” said Rose Roebuck, senior staff accountant. “I liked it. It was very informative and it reminded me of things that I forgot about.”

Other preventive actions include avoiding drugs or alcohol before driving. Turning off and putting away cell phones once the driver is behind the wheel is another major part of Hallums’ message.

“One of the things that we know, as more and more research is being conducted, is that we are addicted to our mobile devices,” Hallums said. “There’s an expectation of immediate gratification and immediate response time, even in a business environment. Give people the time to get back to you when they’re in a vehicle.”

Hallums explains that studies continue to reveal our addiction to mobile devices and emphasizes the dangers of distracted driving.

For some, the class could deliver an auto insurance discount. But whether they pay less in insurance premiums or not, employees know that being a safer driver helps them, their families, and AzGT.

“I’ve noticed since I’ve been here that they care about their employees’ well-being,” said Joshua Ratkovich, design technician I, who began working at AzGT last fall. “They want their employees to be more informed.”

“I think that says a lot. I think it means that we want our employees to be road savvy, know the laws, be safe out there,” Roebuck said.

“It’s knowledge that they can pass on to their family, and it’s a benefit to them professionally. It’s a benefit to the employer by reducing their liability and keeping their drivers safer,” Hallums said. “So it’s a win-win, really, for everybody.”