By Woodrow Polston
Last Week the Van-Far R-I School district partnered with local and state law enforcement to conduct a mock accident and safety awareness program for students in grades nine through 12.
At 9:30 a.m., some of the newly licensed drivers were able to participate as actors on the scene of the mock accident. Several were portraying victims that were trapped inside a wrecked car, while another participant paced back and forth between the crash and another student who was pretending to be a deceased victim.
Audrain County Sheriff’s Deputy Cody Burson was first on the scene, followed by the Van-Far Ambulance District, firefighters, and members of the Missouri State Highway Patrol. For passersby traveling on Highway 54, the scene must have looked like a major news story was breaking. After the scene was cleared, students assembled in the gymnasium to hear the program “If I Could Just Go Back” by Missouri State Highway Patrol Cpl. Kyle Green.
“I was asked to come and talk to you guys today about some of the things that we are seeing on the roadways,” said Green. “Unfortunately for your age group, car crashes are the No. 1 fatality, outranking drug overdoses and suicide. The mock crash that was demonstrated outside illustrates what happens out on the road. Unfortunately, no one ever thinks that it will happen to them. I have brought videos that I will play today to show you what is occurring out there on the Missouri roadways,” he added.
As Green went through several videos of car accidents that resulted from impaired and careless driving, students gasped at the images of carnage. Several testimonial videos were also played with victims recalling the horrors of traffic accidents. One individual, who was interviewed in prison, said that he ruined many lives one morning by simply looking at his cellphone to check a notification. As he did, his large truck plowed into a line of stalled traffic resulting in numerous fatalities.
Green said that it is important to eliminate a negative mindset regarding the potential for being involved in an accident.
“It is important to get away from the mindset that an accident will not happen to you. That is why we have so many car accidents occurring out there. People who have this mindset test the limits, whether it be speeding, careless, or impaired driving. The No. 1 problem that we have right now on the road is cellphones. Distracted driving is a big problem for your age group. When there is an accident that results in the fatality of a student, a high school will often run a campaign against drinking and driving or texting and driving. Unfortunately, the awareness is all but forgotten after about two weeks and drivers return to their bad habits. Eventually, the bad habits will catch up to you,” said Green.
Statistics about car crashes were also shared including the top four contributing factors, which included intoxication and distractions contributed to the use of cell phones, eating and talking to passengers in the vehicle.
“We all know these actions lead to accidents and fatalities, so why is it still such a big problem?” asked Green. “The simple answer, is that it goes back to having the wrong mindset. This is important to change before there are negative consequences as a result.” said Green.
Seat belt safety was also discussed and Green said that it is important to properly wear the seat belt, as some injuries and fatalities result from improper usage.