Posted on: Monday, February 1st, 2016
If you live in or around Smyth or Washington County, Virginia, and you’ve gotten a ticket for a traffic violation, you may have found yourself sitting in front of Frank “T-Bone” Lewis (E&H ’59). T-Bone isn’t a judge, but he is the man who teaches the defensive driving class in this region that many drivers are ordered to take.
T-Bone says back in ‘70s the driver’s education teachers in Saltville were encouraged to take this course on defensive driving – but he was really the only one who followed through. Over time, this became a bit of a calling for T-Bone. He’s been teaching the class since 1973. Several years ago, Coach Fred Selfe (E&H ’69, deceased) asked him to use a classroom on the E&H campus in order to be helpful to the E&H students who needed to take it. He has been teaching it twice a month in Marion and once a month on campus, but he has recently decided to scale back his schedule a bit to only once a month in Marion and once a month in Emory.
T-Bone finds a way to make the class move quickly, and keeps things interesting by peppering the material with stories of good drivers, bad driving decisions, and hypothetical situations from drivers like the fictional “Hot Rod Helen.”
Those who pay attention to T-Bone’s instruction have a lot for which to thank him. He tells a story about a young man who took his class and was later in a terrible accident. The state trooper told him he was only alive because he was wearing his seatbelt. T-Bone says the young man told the trooper, “I was afraid not to wear my seatbelt because T-Bone told me to!”
“If you get nothing else out of this class,” says T-Bone, “learn to wear your safety belt.”