Students at St. Brendan Catholic School recently worked with local lawmakers to pass laws enhancing the safety of one of Volusia County’s unique freedoms: driving on the beach.
The school’s seventh graders took an otherwise normal social studies project and turned it into a civics lesson that is now making a difference in the community. One of their ideas – the mandatory use of headlights for cars on the beach, regardless of time of day – is now part of the county’s policies on beach driving.
Social studies teacher LizAnne Swaringen said the project was designed for students to identify a problem, examine and research policies already in place and come up with an action plan. They met with the county commissioner to learn more about the county’s policies, and later spoke at a workshop where other county council members – including the beach patrol – were present.
After spending thousands of dollars on a study, county officials noted that the students were the only ones to propose the use of headlights.
“Now it’s part of the policy,” Swaringen said.
Students decided to focus their project on beach driving because of its uniqueness in their community. In addition to mandatory use of headlights, the Volusia County Council also banned texting while driving, and now requires all car windows to be rolled down while driving.
Students noted the county’s implementation of their ideas added to the project’s success.
“It was a change from the books and text,” said Annie, one of the students. “I hadn’t really made a change in our community before; it was a new experience.”
Accidents between drivers and pedestrians in recent years have put beach driving in peril, but these new proposals should increase safety and awareness.