January 13, 2012

Bill Nemitz: New lessons in driving long overdue

(Continued from page 1)

"I wouldn't have a problem with that," noted Summers.

Beyond the rules and regulations, the meetings offer a chance simply to vent -- at both sessions thus far, Summers said, parents of teenagers who were killed in car accidents in years past have been in the audience.

"And with these horrible accidents" in the past week, he noted, "I think people's awareness is up right now."

Which brings us to the movie.

Two years ago, Kennebunk Police Chief Robert MacKenzie awoke from a dream about taking a scenario -- underage kids buying beer and heading for an unsupervised party -- and playing out the many and varied things that could go wrong.

"I never remember my dreams," MacKenzie said Thursday. "But as I'm laying there, I thought, 'Oh my God, this is a really good idea.'"

The result is "Point of No Return," a 30-minute video that's now finding its way to high schools and other organizations throughout Maine at just the time it can do the most good.

Produced by Video Creations, a production company in Kennebunk, the movie features actors who were students from Kennebunk High School. They open with the simple act of trying to buy beer. They then spin off into four possible endings.

In the first, they're caught and arrested at the store.

In the second, they get the beer and go to the party at a house where the parents are nowhere to be found. Police arrive and, finding no adults, take the young female hostess away in handcuffs.

In the third, they leave the party, come upon a police sobriety roadblock and, once again, out come the handcuffs.

In the fourth and final ending, they leave the party in a pickup truck. The driver loses control of the speeding vehicle and runs into a tree -- he's not seriously hurt, but one of his passengers dies at the scene and two others sustain life-changing injuries.

You want reality TV? Go to the movie's website (www.pointofnoreturn.tv) and watch the trailer.

Then call your local high school and request that it show the film. Much like Summers notified Maine's driving schools that if they want to incorporate it into the curriculum, he'll waive the rule that prohibits them from using instructional videos.

Police Chief MacKenzie will never forget the first screening at Kennebunk High School, just before the prom and graduation in 2010. Because everyone knew the kids in the film, he said, there was plenty of chortling and hooting when they first appeared on the screen.

"But within 10 minutes of the movie, the audience was completely quiet," MacKenzie said. "And then when the movie ended, you could have heard a pin drop."

Welcome to Young Driver Safety Awareness Month.

It's a start.

Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at:



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