Editorial: Mock crash at Pigeon Forge High today will teach valuable lessons to young drivers

May. 08, 2013 @ 11:52 PM

Sometimes the best way to reach teenagers who seem to ignore the wisdom and experience of their elders is to show them exactly what could happen when they don’t do what’s right. That’s the theory behind today’s mock crash demonstration at Pigeon Forge High School.

The police department, volunteers from the local agencies and the school chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) are conducting the mock crash at 1:15 p.m. It is not a public event. The mock crash aims to send a reminder to young drivers of the dangers and consequences of unsafe driving behavior — such as texting while driving and not wearing a seat belt.

The mock crash will be followed by an assembly to give students tips and tools on how to limit distractions while driving.

The mock crash, according to the police department, will use real crashed vehicles set up on the school grounds and student participants to dramatically act out roles as crash victims. Students from the high school and middle school will watch the demonstration, which will include a mock airlift by Lifestar.

“Mock crashes are a dramatic presentation to educate teenagers about the true consequences of poor driving decisions,” said Pigeon Forge officer Donnie Mashburn. “When students see their friends and peers carried away on a stretcher or in a body bag, it hits home. It’s a strong message that aims to influence their driving choices.”

The demonstration is timed for the beginning of the most dangerous time of year for teen drivers. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for 15-20 years olds — both drivers and teen passengers. May through August marks the deadliest time as teens typically spend more time on the road when school is out of session. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, for every teen who is killed in a crash, nine are injured.

Pigeon Forge Police Department is urging parents to talk to their teenagers about the dangers and consequences of underage drinking, driving distractions like texting, listening to music and other passengers and encouraging them to always buckle up. Parents should limit the number of other young passengers in the vehicle. A study by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety cites that a 16- or 17-year old driver’s risk of death per mile driven doubles when carrying two passengers younger than 21 and quadruples when carrying three or more passengers younger than 21.

Today’s mock crash is a meaningful and important event. Let’s hope the student audience soaks it up and heeds the lessons.