GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – April is distracted driving awareness month as prom season is underway. According to a Cohen Children’s Medical Center study, texting behind the wheel is the leading cause of death among teens. At Northview High School prom is set for Friday. Their Students Against Destructive Decisions group, or SADD, teamed up with 30 agencies for students to witness a simulated distracted driving crash scene.
On Monday, two totaled cars sat in Northview’s parking lot as first responders rushed to the scene, while the student body sat watching.
And then, as the woman acting as the mother of the girl who was killed in this mock accident screamed out, the harsh reality of a distracted driving crash set in.
“It’s just really, really, really powerful because I mean it was people from our class, because it’s like if that happened to them, I don’t know what I’d do,” said Emily Kuiper in tears, a Northview High School senior.
With prom on Friday, Northview students took a chilling, first-hand look at a mock deadly accident: a stark reminder to reinforce safe driving.
“We’re trying to get the students to connect, to think big,” said Casey Quinn, Plainfield Township Fire Department equipment manager. “This is just a demonstration, but they all have got to know this could happen to them some day. We’re actually trying to prevent that.”
Some students said this exercise was even more real than in the past: 30 agencies collaborated and planned four months to show what the scene of an accident actually looks like.
“We wanted to really show the accident in the whole continuum of care,” said Amy Calvert, Mercy Health St. Mary’s registered nurse and coordinator.
New this year were also Mercy Health and Kent County AeroMed, which volunteered their time, including an AeroMed helicopter that landed on the school field.
Many students were touched, some even emotional, but the message was clear: distracted driving, especially texting behind the wheel, kills.
“I think those six little characters, those two words you have to send to your friend, it’s totally not worth your life,” said MckEnna Bockheim, a Northview High School senior. “You have so much ahead of you, and so much going for you, especially being a senior: I’m going to college and I have plans for my life. It’s not worth the little two-second conversation, like the five-seconds you’re going to take looking away from the road.”
Research from Cohen Children’s Medical Center also showed that texting while driving is in fact the leading cause of death for teens, with more than 3,000 teenagers killed each year in crashes.