As a ColdFusion developer for TeraTech, I recently had the opportunity to start working on a project that is satisfying in more ways than just doing a great job with web technology. TeraTech was asked to take over the ongoing maintenance and enhancement of an existing website for a new client, www.IDriveSmart.com.
I Drive Smart is a unique driving school offering driver education by law enforcement – the most highly qualified driver education instructors in the state of Maryland. All of their instructors are either off-duty or retired police officers.
The company has embraced web technology in a big way, adopting a customer-friendly business model that allows students and their parents to register and schedule (and even reschedule) classes and practice sessions online, 24 hours a day. Administrators, team leaders, and driving instructors also have their own site to manage the scheduling and administration of all the cars, instructors and class locations it takes to run a busy, successful driving school.
As usual when I am assigned to work with a new client, I naturally wanted to learn something about the company and its mission. And, as a parent whose daughter began driving not so very long ago, I haven’t forgotten what it’s like to let your teenager venture out on the road alone as a new driver. I was intrigued by a link to an old news article entitled "Police officers who are parents start driving school for teens."
The article was written in 2004, soon after the school opened. While lots of things have changed – more cars, more locations, more instructors – what impressed me most, and even brought a tear to my eye, was the owners’ heartfelt commitment to making a difference and their reasons for starting the school. Montgomery County Police Officer Tom Pecoraro, President of I Drive Smart, recalling the first time he responded to the scene of a fatal car accident, said "As police officers, we see everything. That affects you, and you just want to make a difference." And his fellow Montgomery County Police Officer Paul Starks, co-founder and Vice President of I Drive Smart, echoes a similar theme. "If you have safe drivers, you have safe roads and safe communities…. It’s our passion and our goal to educate one child at a time."
I Drive Smart is the kind of client that I can truly feel proud to work with. Even more than technical problem-solving, it’s about helping some really great people realize their goals and ultimately make our county and state a safer place to live. The article summed it up with an appropriate quote: "’It’s not just about being a business,’ Officer Pecoraro said. ‘We want to make a difference in the community, and that’s what we are trying to do.’"