IS A CHARACTER TEST
After 23 years of teaching "comedy" traffic school, and 20 years on the air as "Mr. Traffic", I have decided to put into writing my operating philosophy on why I do what I do.
Some of you only know me as "Karaoke Kenny" producing the longest running singing shows in Los Angeles, but other know me a "Mr. Traffic'".
People always ask me, "WHY did you become 'Mr. Traffic' and why are you still teaching after all these years"? The simple answer is, as an actor, although I have been luckier that most (http://www.mrtraffic.com/morse.html
In 1987, I had been working in production for a developing producer at 20th Century Fox, whose development deal was dropped (the ONLY thing developed in the year I was there was my dislike for HER). I took a job working for Joan Rivers' PR guy. I was there the day Joan's husband killed himself. It was awful, as Joan was in Cedars getting a tummy tuck at the time (of course). I lasted 4 months working for this "dick" (hint). Another friend of mine was teaching traffic school for what was now, the BIGGEST "Comedy" traffic school in existence, Lettuce Amuse U. He said I might like teaching, and I asked how much I could make. When he told me, I said "I can do that", but you had to have a "Comedy" credential to work there. Well, the fact that I Co-created two comedy improv troupe's with my BFF Barry Pearl (one of the stars of the FILM of "Grease" playing 'Doody'...http://www.barrypearl.com )was more than qualifying, and anyway...most of my work had been 'comedic'. Lloyd was still doing traffic school, but could only afford himself as a teacher, so I took the job. I was good at it. 3 years later, I was listening to radio lawyer Bill Handel on KFI. He has been dispensing legal advice all these years on Saturday, and is really, the most successful morning talk show host in LA on weekdays. He was talking to some caller about a traffic ticket, and giving the wrong answer (not unusual as Bill would be the FIRST one to tell you). I called in, and corrected him. I was such a hit on the call, he invited me in studio to do a full hour, and that went so well, we did it on a regular basis. I created the moniker "Mr.Traffic" on the radio as I became so obsessed with knowing EVERYTHING there was to know about laws and regulations pertaining to driving. My students would say...."What are you....Mr.Traffic?" In 1990, I took my wares to LA Public Access doing "Ask Mr. Traffic" and it became a cult favorite. I got quite a lot of publicity, made many TV and radio appearances, and....the rest, you can find at http://www.mrtraffic.com.
Now.....after 23 years of all of this, I am TOTALLY SHOCKED that the issues I deal with every week in class and when I am on the air (I do features for Premiere Radio on Sirius/XM) loom larger than when I started. Although traffic fatalities overall are lower, crashes per mile driven are not, and what has really changed are people's attitudes towards driving. You can see that driving is simply a reflection of our society and the fact is that smart people turn stupid when they drive. Nice people turn mean. Traffic itself can just piss you off!!!! And you don't have to look any further than a generation of people whose noses are in a semi-permanent position looking DOWN at their cell phones and CrackBerry's. I have kids in class whose fingers are twitching because they are having TEXTING withdrawal symptoms cause you have to turn the cell off in class (I am NOT lying about this!!!). The fact that here in California, it is the law that you can only use a cell HANDS FREE and NO texting while driving, isn't stopping people. The police are NOT enforcing it enough, but aside from that, why would ANYONE do something that purposely distracts from paying attention to driving? Is driving not the most dangerous thing that most people do in their lives?? The answer is..."It's NOT gonna happen to me......COME ON....I can do this and get away with it!" THAT is the character test. Someone who would, however not intentionally, endanger their lives and the lives of others is the "epic fail" as my teens in class would say. Distraction is the #1 cause of car crashes in this country, and if anyone disputes the studies that show how cell and text using distracts while driving, probably also believes in the tooth fairy (I got $.25 in those days....what a gyp!). This is why so many countries have BANNED.....not hands free......BANNED the use of a cell while driving.
You are how you drive. Who you are behind the wheel, IS the person you are. If you are an aggressive, angry driver, you are an aggressive angry person. The REAL you comes out when you think you can get away with it, cause out of the car, you are not anonymous anymore, and you will get called on your crap.
Traffic is getting worse every year, and ONLY the Oil industry has changed our driving habits with their price fixing and manipulation, and the government lets them. When gas gets high, people curtail driving, which results in less crashes. So, it is not that we are better drivers, it is that we drive less and THAT causes the stats to fall.
So, after 23 years of teaching, how effective am I? I think most of my students "get it" and at least TRY to be better people. But I have no illusions about me or my work. As any teacher will tell you, you can't get em all......and I think if I have made ONE person NOT speed up on a yellow light, or stop using a cell while driving.....I have potentially saved one life.
Oh my freaking god, I am about to quote Michael Jackson.....someone stop me....."If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at YOURSELF and make a change...." and that means you respect yourself and others by INTENTIONALLY driving safer. There is no call, no text you could make which is worth your life, but more than that, it is not worth risking OTHERS. How many more kids have to be killed by someone who thinks making money by talking on a phone is more important than their right to grow up? Think it's a rarity? It is NOT!!
I have closed every broadcast and class with this saying: Drive as if your life depends on it, and whether you are behind the wheel or wherever you go, how you would have others treat YOU.....just treat others the same way. Sound familiar?