Electric cars now being used in driver education at North

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Photo by Kacie Morris

A driver education electric vehicle for behind the wheel instruction

Maxie Oasay and Kacie Morris

District 203 implemented electric car use for behind-the-wheel sessions in drivers’ education classes. The change is a result of supply chain issues with North’s previous vehicle provider over the summer. 

The switch was made at the district level in an attempt to provide a more environmentally-friendly driving option. John Fiore, Instructional Coordinator of Naperville North’s Wellness Department, further explains the source of the district’s decision. 

“We were informed at the start of the summer that Toyota of Naperville was no longer able to provide us with cars. From there, our district went ahead and started looking at how to replace the cars and there was an interest in getting electric cars…just being more environmentally conscientious or forward-thinking so to speak,” Fiore said. 

According to the United Nations Environment Programme, vehicles that run on traditional fuel such as gas or diesel contribute to approximately one quarter of all energy related carbon emissions to the atmosphere. However, electric vehicles have no tailpipe emissions and therefore do not contribute to these harmful transmissions.

Aside from being environmentally sustainable, North’s new electric Chevy Volts have several safety features that past driver education cars have lacked. Benjamin Graham, a driver education instructor at NNHS, describes some of these features and how they have benefitted both teachers and students alike. 

“[The cars have] a camera that lets you see the top of the car which the other cars haven’t had before,which is a really nice teaching tool. We can use that to show [students] how far away from the curb they are as they approach the curb. We can use that to show them which way to turn their wheels,” Graham said. 

In addition to the cameras, there are two audible and visual safety features that can assist students in their learning process. 

“It’s got lane assistance so if we go out of the lane it beeps and gives you an audible alert. It also has the blind spot detection on the side mirrors which our cars in the past haven’t had so if there’s a car in the blind spot it lights up, so that’s a nice feature” Graham said. 

The new electric cars may also help decrease costs for the District on things like gas and maintenance. According to the National Resource Defense Council (NRDC), a 2020 consumer report study found that electric vehicle consumers spend about 60% less on fuel costs compared to drivers of gas-powered vehicles. In addition to spending half as much on maintenance costs, drivers of electric vehicles could also receive a $7,500 federal tax credit from the state of Illinois for simply owning an electric vehicle. Fiore says that despite the bells and whistles of electric cars, Naperville North students can expect the overall curriculum to remain the same.

“It’s still four wheels, a steering wheel, a brake-pedal, and an accelerator so I think that’s as consistent as you’re always going to get,” Fiore said.