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Thursday, May 5, 2016

MHS docudrama focuses on distracted driving

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The vehicles in the docudrama, with the student thrown to the ground, greeted Monett High School classmates as they walked onto the scene of the mock accident on Tuesday. [Times Photo by Murray Bishoff] [Order this photo]
A docudrama focusing on distracted driving offered a vivid example of the consequences of bad decisions for Monett High School students on Tuesday, Oct. 30.

Assistance for the events was provided by the Monett Police, city firefighters, Barry-Lawrence Ambulance, the Lawrence County Sheriff's Department, Lawrence County Coroner Scott Lakin and the Missouri State Highway Patrol.

Signs placed around the school campus for a week have emphasized the consequences of texting and driving.

The program began with an assembly presented by Merry and Ron Dye, founders of "Dangers of Distraction," a not-for-profit organization that focuses on dangers arising especially from texting and driving. Ron Dye coaxed senior Alex Brennan into volunteering for a unicycle demonstration, then questioned the wisdom of agreeing to ride on his shoulders on the unicycle while he was texting.

"Life is about making good choices," Dye said. "This is not a good choice and is very dangerous."

A professional truck driver, Dye said the biggest problem with today's drivers is a lack of defensive driving skills.

Following a 30-minute assembly, the students moved out to the northwest corner of the school parking lot, where a vehicular crash had been simulated. Approaching students saw one of their classmates lying on the ground, another wedged through a windshield and several trapped inside one of two cars.

Students would later be told the collision was the result of distracted driving. Investigators determined one of the drivers had been texting and driving. His actions resulted in a high speed collision. School resource officer Jay Jastal said an average text will remove a driver's eyes from the road for five seconds, and at 50 miles per hour, a lot of distance can be crossed in that time.

Students from Amy Sampson's first hour senior English class served as actors for the docudrama. Several came running up on the two vehicles and calledfor help. One student, already on the ground, was declared to not be breathing. Others involved bore makeup marks showing injuries provided by Moulage by Mae.

In what seemed much longer than the elapsed time, the students struggled helplessly to do something before the sirens of the approaching Monett police cars could be heard. Right behind them was a Monett fire truck, equipped with the Jaws of Life used to pull the roof and the door off one of the cars.

As the trapped student was taken out of one car, Coroner Scott Lakin and previous coroner Don Lakin arrived to remove the body on the ground. Emergency crews took one injured student to an air helicopter from MedFlight in Joplin, which landed on the school grounds. By that point, the scene had been cleared, and organizers declared the dramatization was done.

Students returned to the gym for a follow-up program. Sampson said three students, Luis Gonzalez, Leo Regaldo and Alonzo Meza, had been declared dead at the scene. The number represented how many people would die in the nation from vehicular accidents in a typical school day.

Eulogies were read for the deceased students.

A video was subsequently shown about the dangers of texting and driving. The film focused on a fatal accident involving a young woman, Mariah. Her parents then addressed the students, along with Trooper Grant Hendricks, who worked the fatal crash near Neosho.

Students were urged to sign a banner over their lunch hour pledging not to text and drive. Forms for a "BFF" (Best friends forever) pledge were placed in the cafeteria to encourage thoughtful driving and an effort to prevent friends from making bad decisions behind the wheel.

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I think this effort will help these young drivers (and hopefully the adults as well) get the message. It has to start with the end user, the driver...deciding not to partake in distracted driving and this will help drive that message home.

I also decided to do something about distracted driving after my three year old daughter was nearly run down right in front of me by a texting driver. Instead of a shackle that locks down phones and alienates the user (especially teens) I built a tool for teens and their parents called OTTER that is a simple, GPS based, texting auto reply app for smartphones. It also silences call ringtones while driving unless you have a bluetooth enabled. I think if we can empower the individual then change will come to our highways now and not just our laws.

Erik Wood, owner


do one thing well... be great.

-- Posted by ErikWood on Thu, Nov 1, 2012, at 6:41 PM

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