Students from Lakeside and Doyline High Schools got an up close and personal view of what could happen when a drunk driver causes a car crash.
During a mock crash Wednesday, hosted by Louisiana State Police, students saw from beginning to end what takes place during and following an alcohol-related car crash. Trooper Matt Harris, LSP public information officer, says since the implementation of Graduating Licensing program, fatal car crashes among teens has dropped 40 percent.
“Part of that is prevention,” he said. “We show them the reality of a fatal crash. We show them the reality of their peers being killed by a decision like this, the reality of not wearing a seatbelt, of going to jail for vehicular homicide. Everything here today was real. Although it was an acted scene, it’s actually how we conduct business.”
He says it shows teens how it not only affects them, but the people around them. With a school the size of Lakeside and Doyline, Harris says it can have a huge impact on them.
“It shows that it not only affects them, but their family members, their student body, and the first responders who have to handle the crash,” he said. “Every crash ends different, and lives have been saved.”
The Graduating Licensing System was put into place about 15 to 20 years ago, Harris said, and there are three phases, the learning phase, intermediate phase with driver restrictions and the full driver’s license.
Doyline Principal Bridget Bridges bussed her high school students to Lakeside because she wanted her students to see the impact of something of this magnitude.
“We wanted them to experience the impact of a real life situation they will be faced with or see the effects of, whether it be them personally or someone they know,” she said. “It’s so much more powerful than a video or YouTube, because they feel it from the helicopter coming in, the sounds, the sirens, the police – experience it without being a part of it.”
Bridges hopes this lesson will help her students make better choices and better decisions.
Harris says car crashes remain the leading cause of death for teens.
Following the mock crash, Vanessa Braggs spoke to the student body about her experience with a drunk driver. Braggs lost her entire family, all but two sons, to a drunk driver.
Although they conduct presentations such as the mock car crash year round, they ramp up prevention efforts during homecoming and prom season, Harris said.
“Their junior/senior prom is the last thing they’re going to do before they go off to college,” he said. “There’s so many times kids don’t make it past that prom. We’re out here to make sure everybody makes it past prom, makes it past college and everybody grows up to raise a family.”