We now have a number of in-class presentations under our belt, with more coming down the line. We generally open with a hard-hitting 30-second clip of the UK PSA before we even say a word. In those 30 seconds, the kids transform from a room full of typically boisterous students to teens that are fully engaged and prepared to hear our message.
Some of the “tough kids”—as one of our speakers likes to call them—initially laugh at the opening scene as the accident begins to unfold. But the laughter quickly dies down as the graphic devastation wreaked on screen depicts the deadly consequences of a moment’s distraction. The horrified screams, sounds of metal crunching and tires squealing is unnerving to the hardiest of souls.
At the end of the clip, I introduce myself and immediately explain why one of our guest speakers can’t even be in the room when that clip is playing…it’s because he barely survived a similar experience and can’t handle watching and listening to something that hits so close to home.
As the 26-year-old texting & driving survivor confidently limps back into the room, I complete the speaker introductions explaining that the Fire Fighter will share his 26 years of experience on the reality of car crashes as seen through the eyes of a first responder. Fire Fighters are the ones who generally arrive on scene first and their perspective is wholly different from the accident scene gawkers who slow down as they drive by to catch a glimpse of the ‘action.’
My intro used to cover that my reason for launching this initiative was to help educate drivers, or soon-to-be-drivers, about the dangers of distracted driving BEFORE it affected someone I love. I now describe in vivid detail the terror surrounding the events of Jan. 5th when my 8-year-old was in vehicle that was rear ended at an intersection on Hwy 15. The other vehicle was totalled and we ended up in Children’s Hospital for hours with our daughter being x-rayed and examined by no less than three doctors. She’s still not returned to school and is in a neck brace 24/7 awaiting further x-rays to determine the extent of her injuries. This idea of mine to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving has now become VERY personal.
By this time, we’ve easily got the attention of at least 90% of the kids. Then we get into the real stuff. As each one of us tells our stories and shares some eye-opening facts, the impact on our audience is obvious through their body language. As we wrap up, comments heard from students as they quietly file out range from, “I’ll never do that when I drive!” to “That was ‘sic’ man!” to the less obvious solemn reflection.
The best part of what we do at D.I.A.D. ~ Drop It And Drive is that we’re changing how kids think about driving and by doing so are hopefully saving lives.
Driving may well be your right once you’re got a licence, but it’s more so your responsibility to keep yourself and others alive.