On Tuesday at Greenwich High wellness teacher Kathy Steiner and the club she advises, the Outreach Club, held a safe driving event, which culminated in a simulation of a distracted driving crash with fatalities.
The event was powerful, and realistic. So much so that some students who arrived in after the simulation started had to ask if it was real or not.
“Kids haven’t accepted their mortality and need to have the visual learning to plant that deep seed so they make that a good educated choice, and not get in the car with a drunk driver,” said Lil Perone, head of the school’s Physical Education and Wellness department. “In that moment, maybe they’ll have the flashback of today, and it might just save a life.”
“We’re trying to show the dangers of distracted driving because a lot of people think it won’t effect them,” said Eddie Graham, a member of the Explorer Post 911.
“We are doing a very graphic depiction hoping it will deter young people from distracted driving,” said Ana Heavey, also a member of Explorer Post 911.
Indeed, Zoe Harris who acted as the passenger who died in the simulated crash said that just this week someone gave her a ride and then started texting while driving. “I asked her to stop and she didn’t,” Zoe said.
Reflecting on her participation in the simulation, Zoe said, “When the white sheet came over me, it really hit home.”
“I definitely won’t text and drive for sure when I get my license,” said Valerie Cella after the simulation. “All the juniors are just getting their licenses and next week when seniors go on their internships, juniors will get to park at GHS.”
Valerie and Zoe said a lot of GHS students use Snapchat when they are driving, especially kids with new driver’s licenses. They explained that Snapchat has a filter that indicates how fast they are driving.
For his part, GHS senior Peyton Larkin, who was convincing as the distracted driver who just learned his good friend had been killed because of his action, said the exercise had an impact on him personally.
“This was very real today. Sometimes people drive use their phones, and I say, ‘Put your phone down,'” he said, adding that he is part of the GEMS Explorer Post.” “This is big for me.”
“His future is ruined,” Officer Shane Geary said of the distracted driver whose passenger was killed. “It doesn’t matter where he’s from. It doesn’t matter who his parents are. There is a zero tolerance these days, especially for distracted driving cases with loss of life.”
Officer Geary said the simulation was a good approximation of scenes he has responded to, including the inter-agency cooperation. “We prioritize and put the patients first. Most Police officers are medically trained and many of us are trained as EMT’s too.”
Geary said if the police arrive before GEMS, they evaluate injuries first. “The handcuffs go on last,” he said.