HAMMOND │ There were a lot of car accidents in the Morton High School parking lot Thursday.
Some were caused by impaired driving. Some had more serious implications due to the lack of seat belt use.
Fortunately, all of it was simulated, as Indiana Students Against Destructive Decisions traveled to Morton with teen traffic safety activities focused on promoting seat belt use, discouraging distracted and impaired driving and encouraging responsible driving habits.
“Car crashes are the leading cause of death for teenagers,” said Geoff Grow, Indiana SADD program coordinator. “All we’re doing is bringing awareness.”
Every Morton student registered to attend prom Friday took part in several activities including the Seat Belt Convincer, a device which simulated a five to seven mph crash.
“Most crashes are 40 mph or faster, so this helps students to put into perspective how important it is to wear a seat belt,” Grow said.
The Fatal Vision Obstacle Course gave students an opportunity to get behind the wheel (of a golf cart) and follow a course of safety cones. After a little driving experience, each student was handed a pair of “drunk” goggles to experience the visual impairment of someone over the legal limit.
“When I put those glasses on I couldn’t see anything. It was like driving with your eyes closed,” said senior Juhwaun Morris. “They said I would have killed four people.”
Morris said the Seat Belt Convincer “hurt a little bit.”
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And that was only at 5 mph.
“I think this is a great idea for everybody to understand how serious this is and how bad you can get hurt,” he said.
A third activity, the Quick-Click Challenge, allowed teams of four students to compete against their peers to see who could buckle up in the shortest amount of time, demonstrating how quick and simple it is to buckle up.
Morton High health teacher Scott Garrison organized the SADD event and said it was the first of its kind at the school.
“I’m the health teacher, so I really truly believe in everything SADD is doing,” he said.
Junior class sponsor Kirstin Lakin said kids are very visual and hands-on and they “get it more” that way.
“This will drive the point home to them,” she said.
The winners of the Quick-Click Challenge were seniors Connor Davidson, Ben Daniels, Courtney Dawkins and Morris with a winning time of 40 seconds. The Indiana record is 31 seconds.
With car crashes remaining the leading cause of death among 15- to 20-year-olds, Indiana SADD has partnered with the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute and State Farm Insurance to offer free traffic safety programming to schools and communities throughout the state in efforts to lower teen fatalities. Indiana SADD has visits dozens of schools each year with one goal in mind — to save lives.