Most people know Robert Patrick from his memorable role in the TV series “Scorpion” or the blockbuster film “Terminator 2: Judgement Day”, but the 59-year-old actor considers his most important role to date to be one that he’s played off screen.
“I try to be a positive role model for my kids,” he tells Mediaplanet. “Because I’ve done so many stunts, and still ride motorcycles, I’ve really schooled them on how important it is to stay focused and pay attention to what you’re doing when you’re driving.”
For his two children, Samuel and Austin, Patrick believes that honesty is the best policy. “I’m very honest with them,” he explains. “I told them early on that I had a problem with alcohol and drugs.” Though the actor has been sober for over twenty years, he hopes honest communication can help his kids make informed decisions. “I’ve taught them that you have to be very alert when you’re driving… you can’t be impaired or under the influence alcohol or drugs.”
Every day, 29 people in the United States die in motor vehicle crashes that involve an alcohol-impaired driver; one death every 50 minutes. While these figures are harrowing, Patrick believes there is another threat that requires the nation’s attention.
“Driving in Los Angeles, I would say 90 percent of the people I see on the road have their cell phone in one hand and steering wheel in the other,” he says. “Your children are on the road with [these people]. There are a lot of bad drivers all over the country.”
What is his advice for keeping young people safe on the road? Lead by example.
“[Kids] observe all of your behavior; that’s where they get their cues from,” Patrick says. “You have to be aware of that as a parent. If you get in a car with your phone, you have to be sure you’re not using it.”
When teaching his now 17-year-old son the rules of the road, Patrick made sure his expectations were crystal clear. “I said, ‘Here are the rules buddy, and if you screw up, say goodbye to your car.’ There’s swift consequences if I find out that they’ve taken advantage of a situation or privilege that I’ve given them.”
Today Patrick is speaking out in hopes of inspiring both parents and young people to take safe driving seriously. “Driving is a lethal thing. You can not only hurt yourself, but you might hurt someone else, and that’s a horrible thing to carry around your whole life.”