Behind the commotion of construction dirt piles and chain-link fences, Winters High School students poured out of class for lunch on Friday, Oct. 27, to upbeat music, free pizza and some hands-on education about the dangers of distracted driving.
The Teen Safe Driving Campaign was brought to the school by Safety Center Incorporated, a non-profit in Sacramento that focuses on educating the community to make positive decisions for safer roads, schools and workplaces.
Friday Night Live, an organization targeted at reducing drug and alcohol related motor incidents among teens facilitated the event under the leadership of Olivia Rodriguez, the district librarian.
Friday Night Live also sponsors the heavy-hitting “Every 15 Minutes” presentation that takes the student body through a fatal drunk driving accident where the accident, funerals for the “deceased” and jail time for the offender are all staged with excruciating and realistic detail. According to Rodriguez, this will take place again sometime in 2018.
That program relies on the strong commitment of CHP to provide outreach and funding, which extends to other events like the lunch-time fair held last Friday.
Rodney Fitzhugh, public information officer with CHP was present to talk to students about what CHP sees, and how they can impact safety on the road.
“We try to share information about what we see,” said Fitzhugh, “Traffic collisions are 100 percent preventable.”
Next to Fitzhugh, students could play an arcade game simulation of distracted driving where they had to mitigate obstacles to get a friend to work safely.
According to Lionela Couriel with Safety Center, adding the passenger results in higher buy-in from participants, and emphasizes responsibility.
She says students often ask her what to do to navigate the game.
“I always tell them, it’s up to you, what are you going to do?” said Couriel.
Students got to experience a physical simulation of drunk driving by driving a four-wheeled bike with a steering wheel while wearing “fatal-vision goggles,” which simulate the impaired sight caused by inebriation.
WHS student Fatima Melendez said that it caused her to misjudge distances. She got around the cones less than gracefully with the help of her friends telling her how to correct.
Allstate agent Steve Coronado handed out free sacks and water bottles to students and emphasized more innocent distractions that can be equally lethal to drugs and alcohol.
“It’s texting, eating, putting make-up on, with this demographic, especially the high school kids it’s a lot of texting,” he said.
The Allstate X the Text Campaign is targeted at this piece of distracted driving and asks parents and students to pledge not to text and drive.
According to the campaign, 98 percent of drivers acknowledge the danger of texting while driving, but 74 percent of drivers admit to committing the act.
The Teen Safe Driving festival was part of the nationwide observance of Red Ribbon week, which supports drug prevention in children and teens. The first Red Ribbon week was held in 1988 and the program continues to go strong today, having built a foundation for events like these that promote health and safety in America’s youth.