GREENVILLE – Greenville High School students received a graphic lesson in the dangers of distracted and drunk driving Wednesday when the Save a Life Tour paid a visit.
“Driving a car is the No. 1 killer in the United States,” said Andrew Tipton, of Grand Rapids, Michigan, who was presenting the program on behalf of Kramer Entertainment.
The presentation began with a 17-minute video that began with scenes of happy people drinking, partying and having and good time, and progressed into scenes of crashing cars, smashing glass, bloodied bodies, and anguished friends and family members.
Tipton told the students gathered in the gymnasium that they had permission in advance if they had to leave the room.
“I don’t know your history,” Tipton said. “I don’t know what you’ve been through.”
As the emotional impact of the video grew on the screens, several students left the room with heads down and tears in their eyes.
Tipton told the students after the video that three out of five of them will be affected, directly or indirectly, by age 30. Many of them already have been. Every 32 minutes, someone dies as a result of drunk driving – sometimes it’s the driver; often, it’s not.
An even more common practice raises an even more common danger – texting while driving. Texting while driving is about six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated. The National Highway Safety Administration says that texting while driving is the same as driving after consuming four beers and makes a driver 23 times more likely to crash. The National Safety Council reports that 1.6 million crashes per year are caused by texting while driving.
According to the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis, 330,000 injuries are caused by texting while driving.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety Fatality Facts, 11 teenage deaths every day are caused by texting while driving.
“A lot of people will say, ‘That won’t happen to me,’” Tipton told the students. “A lot of people will say, ‘I’m better than that.’”
Tipton related incidents of his friends over the years who have been involved in drunk or distracted driving crashes. The hardest one for him, he said, happened last summer when his lifelong friend and former school girlfriend was killed, along with her boyfriend, when she was driving drunk and using an app on her phone. The woman hit head-on a vehicle carrying a husband, wife and their 7-year-old son. The son, Tipton said, is still learning how to walk again.
The juniors and seniors at the high school were scheduled throughout the day to return to the gym to try out one or both of the simulators set up to simulate texting while driving and drunk driving.
Senior Logan Emrick was the first to try out the texting-while-driving simulator.
“It was difficult,” she said. “It was distracting.”
Emrick, who admitted to having texted while driving before, said the simulation was “kind of” accurate, but “it was a little more difficult on the simulator, I feel. I think I’m comfortable with my own phone and my own car, but that’s not an excuse.”
She said the whole experience did give her second thoughts, though.
“That video was really sad. I teared up,” she said. “It was eye-opening.”
Senior Annalee Abbott tried out the drunk-driving simulator.
“It was crazy,” she said of her time on the simulator. “Don’t drive drunk!”
Reach the writer at 937-569-4354 or on Twitter @RachelLloydGDA. Join the conversation at Facebook.com/Advocate360.