VHS holds driving safety event

Published 3:28 pm Wednesday, March 20, 2019

By JOYANNA LOVE/ Senior Staff Writer

Safety on the road was the focus for Verbena High School students on March 19 as they participated in the URKeys2DRV event.

Special guests and simulations highlighted the importance of driving responsibly and the consequences of making bad choices when behind the wheel of a car or ATV.

Students in seventh through 12th grades participated in the events.

One of the simulations had students behind a steering wheel connected to a computer program. The students were to drive the course and follow prompts to call or text with the on-screen phone.

“You’re driving, a phone pops up, and it is telling you to dial this number,” senior Anna Hall said. “Then, it’s like, ‘Wait a minute, I’ll just text.’ Then you have to text it and try to keep up with the directions and go the speed limit and try not to run into anyone.”

She said keeping up was difficult.

While Hall said the simulation was really different from being in an actual vehicle, she said the multi-tasking and difficulty in concentrating were realistic.

“It’s kind of difficult,” freshman Brody Mims said.

Mims crashed the virtual vehicle during the simulation.

Classmates gathered around and in some cases, backseat drivers tried to tell the driver what to do.

Hall said a takeaway for her from the event was “definitely not to text or use my phone while driving.”

Mims agreed.

Specialized goggles were used in many of the activities to simulate trying to complete a field sobriety test while under the influence of alcohol.

“I couldn’t walk at all,” sophomore Cheyenne Rager said.

Rager had tried to walk in a straight line while wearing the goggles.

“It was like water, you couldn’t see anything down there (by your feet),” Rager said.

Another simulation had students wear the goggles then try to pick up cups along a path before attempting to catch a ball and flying disc.

The importance of safety on ATVs was also emphasized during a simulation where students wore the specialized goggles and drove an ATV through a short course bordered by traffic cones.

“I pretty much ran over half of them, so it’s a pretty good simulator to teach people to not drive drunk because it’s not going to work,” senior T.J. Shaw said.

Presentations were made to the students by UAB Trauma Unit personnel, Think First, and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Mims said the Trauma Unit talked about the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt and what would happen if someone had to go to the Trauma Unit after being in a car accident.

VHS counselor Kim Benson organized the event.

“I actually lost a couple of classmates from my graduating class due to automobile accidents, we just see it more and more with our young students not really understanding the consequences of their choices while they are trying,” Benson said.

She said the event highlighted the dangers of distracted driving “whether that’s texting or changing the radio.”

Being a good passenger was also highlighted.

Benson said the goal was to help students see the consequences of their actions and make good choices.

Benson said the event was made possible by State Farm, Drive Safe Alabama, Alabama State Troopers, Alabama Department of Transportation, Safe Kids of Alabama, UAB Children’s of Alabama, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Department of Public Health.