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Mock crash shows students texting while driving dangers
Mar 09, 2013 4:00 pm
MT. JULIET – Two cars collided head on, six teenagers were passengers and the driver had been texting. Both cars were totaled and sat still on Curd Road in front of Mt. Juliet High School.
It was silent after the crash, and one teen was splayed out of the back seat, onto the cold concrete, blood seeping from her limp body. The other teens were moaning or prone in their seats.
Officials at the school staged the mock crash in conjunction with Vanderbilt's Monroe Carroll Children's Hospital to let students know what could happen when you text and drive.
The entire student body watched the simulation play out, and it started with an over-the-school intercom 411 call from a panicked passerby who came upon the crash.
"She saw a distracted driver and called to report it," said Jan Dickens, the school's health occupation sciences teacher.
The crash happened seconds later.
Dickens and 16 of her students have been practicing for the mock crash lesson for many months.
They compete against three other schools to win $3,300 for the best anti-texting message in the hospital's "Be in the zone, turn off your phone," campaign. This was the 16th simulation the school has provided for students. Years prior, it was an alcohol-induced crash. However, according to Mt. Juliet Police spokesperson Tyler Chandler, the majority of crashes by Mt. Juliet teens were from distracted drivers most likely texting.
"We are trying to make our students aware that the most wrecks in Wilson County are because they are texting and driving," said Dickens. "It's 23 percent of wrecks."
Most of the students stood riveted by the re-inactment of something that might happen to them if they are distracted while driving.
Soon, two ambulances and two fire engines arrived with Wilson Emergency Management Agency paramedics. Emergency personnel got to work to survey the wreck and assist those still alive.
Students watched as WEMA firefighters brought out stretchers to load the students who needed life-saving attention. White sheets were stretched over those who were killed in the crash. WEMA employees brought out jaws of life to get the teens trapped in one vehicle out and axes to cut out the windshield.
"Yes, I take it seriously," said senior Schyler Cuthbertson. "My parents tell me not to text. It seems really real."
The HOSA classes have spent months preparing for this simulation in hopes it might make the idea of a crash caused by texting a reality.
"I just started driving," said sophomore Allison Taylor. "This is the reality of texting and driving. My parents know I won't text and drive. I can't multitask."
Principal Mel Brown was proud of the simulation. He said while some of the older students may have been indifferent to the simulation, "in reality, they are not missing a thing."
A Lifeflight helicopter from Vanderbilt Medical Center dropped to the ground nearby, and paramedics loaded the "driver" of the car who was texting.
In reality, the student portraying the driver whispered, "I would never want to ride in one of those."