Conversation with Jeff Payne, CEO of Non-Profit Driver’s Edge
TST is a proud supporter of Driver’s Edge, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping save the lives of young drivers.
Total Show Technology (TST) regularly partners with and supports local community organizations and produces free or low-cost events for non-profit and charitable entities throughout the Pacific Southwest. One such organization, Driver’s Edge, is a non-profit organization and public charity dedicated to helping save the lives of young drivers in America. We asked Jeff Payne, CEO of Driver’s Edge, to tell us more.
What is Driver’s Edge?
Driver’s Edge is a free half-day program for drivers 21 and younger. The program teaches real-life emergency avoidance and response techniques and overall driver safety. We use behind-the-wheel and classroom experiences to address the unacceptably high number of youth-related automobile collisions and fatalities that occur each year.
Talk about the behind-the-wheel instruction.
Our program is taught by professional racing drivers and performance driving instructors. Every student has a chance to get behind the wheel of a car with one of these professional instructors beside them at all times. Each behind-the-wheel experience includes evasive lane change maneuvers, ABS braking exercises, panic braking instruction, and skid control instruction. Our professional drivers connect with the kids on their level. They’re the real deal.
You have more than 30 years of experience in the automotive and motorsports world. Throughout your career, you’ve trained thousands of students in a variety of driving programs.
Over the years, I’ve designed anti-terrorist training, team building programs, and corporate defensive driving programs. Organizations I’ve worked with include PGA Tour, Hilton Hotels, the Walt Disney Company, McDonalds, and the U.S. Air Force.
I’ve also done a lot of race training and celebrity training for movies. Students of mine have included Tom Cruise, Walter Payton, Charlie Sheen, and Jon Bon Jovi, among others.
Driver’s Edge was a dream of yours for many years until you brought it to life in 2002.
That’s right. The organization was born out of frustration. Because of my background in motorsports, I’ve long been aware that car crashes are the number one killer of Nevada’s and America’s youth. My dream has grown into a nationally recognized non-profit organization and public charity dedicated to the safety of young drivers across America.
You’re now in your 18th year. You’ve built an incredible reputation over the years.
Eighteen years – I almost can’t believe it. As a grass roots organization, we rely heavily on word of mouth and local media. However, the word has gotten out. When registration opens, it fills within minutes. In addition, 10% of attendees travel in from out of state. It’s very humbling.
Students and parents love Driver’s Edge.
We’ve had a great response. Of our students, 99.9% say Driver’s Edge has helped them become safer drivers, 99.7% feel what they’ve learned could help them avoid a potential collision, and 99% would recommend Driver’s Edge to other teens. Also, 99% of parents would recommend Driver’s Edge to other parents and teen drivers, and 99% think Driver’s Edge should be a required part of driver’s education.
Driver’s Edge is based in Las Vegas. Do you ever take your training on the road?
Thanks to a grant from the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety we are able to conduct programs on an ongoing basis in the state of Nevada. Over the years, we’ve conducted events in 61 cities across the country, but it all comes down to funding. While it’s free for families to attend, a lot of time, money, and effort go into making an Edge event possible. To date, more than 145,000 students and parents have attended an Edge event in the U.S.
How do you know TST president Rick Pollock?
Rick and his family participated in the program 15 years ago. Since then, TST [Total Show Technology] has handled all of our AV equipment needs for our Vegas programs. Rick and his team have been our champions, and we depend on their continued support. I can’t speak highly enough of them.
What don’t people understand about teen driving?
Too many people assume teens are reckless and out of control. They assume car crashes are inevitable because “kids will be kids.” More young people are killed in car crashes than are killed by drugs, guns, and violent crimes combined. It’s an epidemic, and yet kids aren’t taught what to do behind the wheel. It comes down to training. We can make a difference right now through education.
Driver’s Edge is free for teens to attend, but it costs a lot to conduct each event.
Driver’s Edge is offered for free to teens for one simple reason: this type of education needs to be available to all young drivers, not just those who might be able to afford to attend. The actual value of the program is approximately $500 per student.
But, you’re right, it costs a great deal to conduct these events, from vehicle costs to insurance costs to facility costs, just to name a few. That’s where individual donors and sponsors and partners like TST come in. Without their support, it would be impossible for us to offer free programs. Our donors, sponsors, and partners truly believe in our cause, and we’re grateful for their support.
It’s a great cause. When people donate, they help save lives.
We’re a 501(c)(3) organization, and donations are tax deductible. The more donations we receive, the more events we can conduct – and that means better educated young drivers and safer roads for all!
Jeff Payne is CEO and a member of the Board of Directors of Driver’s Edge.Driver’s Edge provides a free educational program for young drivers that teaches real-life emergency avoidance and response techniques and driver safety. This innovative program is taught by true driving professionals through a combination of behind-the-wheel and classroom experiences.
Learn more at https://driversedge.org/.
About Total Show Technology
TST is the total show production solution for anyone who hosts, plans, manages, or produces conferences, meetings, trade shows, and nightclub live events. We own the Pacific Southwest market and travel with our clients all across the country. Our clients have relied on us to deliver audio, video, lighting, rentals, and show production since 1996.
Whether you’re looking for audio visual support or advanced event technologies, we help your shows go off without a hitch and always make you look good. In an industry where almost anything can go wrong, we make sure everything goes right. Let’s have a conversation! Call us at 702-897-8508 or visit www.totalshowtech.com/contact.