When driving is dangerous

FROM STAFF REPORTS

The front page of today’s paper features disturbing images – the aftermath of a fatal car wreck involving local teenagers.

The photos show the teenagers wounded in a destroyed car, emergency personnel treating them at the scene and medical professionals attempting to save their lives at the hospital.

Luckily, the images are staged as part of Every 15 Minutes, a two-day program at Chelsea High School that was coordinated by Shelby County Sheriff’s Office and Chelsea Fire and Rescue and supported by numerous other businesses, student groups and agencies.

The program is filmed and compiled into a video, which the juniors and seniors watch at school. The program, which also included a mock funeral for two students and trial for the drunk driver, was intended to demonstrate the consequences of distracted and impaired driving.

Looking at the photos in this paper, we would say the program achieved its goal. The images are disturbing and heartbreaking. Having the students participate in the program makes a far greater impression than a lecture or third-party video would.

Students watched as their “injured” classmates were rescued from a car. They saw another classmate stand trial for drinking and driving. They also heard from Julie Yeager, whose daughter, Hannah, was killed in a car accident in 2006 when she was a freshman at Chelsea High School.

Prom and graduation are around the corner. While these milestones are occasions for celebration, they also are a time to remind teenagers of the dangers of distracted or drunk driving.

Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens, according to the Centers for Disease Control’s website.

The Department of Motor Vehicle’s website lists disturbing facts about teen drivers, including:

  • Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teenage drivers.
  • Drivers aged 16-19 have the highest average annual crash and traffic violation rates of any other age group.

Please take a moment this week to remind your teen of the dangers of drinking or texting while driving. A simple act – putting your phone away in the car, using a designated driver, limiting the number of passengers in the car– can keep teens focused and spare families from years of heartache.