“Distracted Driving Event” by Sailor Jewett
Granted, the title may lead you to believe you know all there is to know about such an event, but there is more to this program that cannot be explained in just three words. That’s where Tyler Stracke, who helped organize and lead the event, comes into play. He explained, “Impaired and Distracted Driving is a program put on by North Central District Health Department, and was done in partnership with the Nebraska State Patrol for Rock County High School. The goal of this program, is to educate high school and middle school students on the potential dangers that come with operating a vehicle while under the influence of a substance, or while trying to multitask while driving.” This event is broken into three sections. One of the sections includes having the students use “Fatal Vision” goggles while attempting to drive a pedal car. Fatal Vision goggles mimic the effects of substances on your vision. This demonstrates just how impaired your vision can become and how difficult the impairment can make driving. However, Tyler Stracke adds, “The goggles only mimic the effects on vision. If any substance is consumed it has potential effects on motor skills, reaction time, cognitive function, and memory”. Secondly, State Trooper Gena Jones demonstrated different sobriety tests to the students again with the help of the Fatal Vision goggles. Lastly, students watched a video titled “One Second to the Next”. This heart-wrenching video features examples and stories from those who have been affected by accidents that were caused by either the use of substances or velour device usage.
Rachel Usasz-Keber, a teacher at Rock County High School, added, “...unfortunately, we humans like to tempt the system by believing we can do anything. While information is important, experience is the best teacher.” Experience was exactly what students were offered during this event. Rachel continued to explain just how interactive the event was and how that added meaning to the program itself. She also said, “Many students were surprised by how difficult it was to 'walk the line'. I think several seniors thought it was something to simply practice to accomplish” which they learned the hard way that it is more of a challenge than just walking in a straight line.
Mr. Otten, the principal at Rock County High School, adds that he personally saw the emotional effect the program had on students. Not only that, but he felt the effect on himself. Mr. Otten said, “I have been better about waiting to read the text or email when it pops into my phone while I’m driving” after the event. Overall, he looks forward to seeing this again in the years to come.
Personally, I have to admit when I heard of the event, my expectations were low. Those expectations, however, were more than exceeded. I witnessed students enjoying themselves while also taking in the full message that the Distracted Driving Event is supposed to deliver. With the comedy of seeing fellow students run right over cones or stumbling to walk in a straight line while wearing the goggles to students tearing up upon hearing the stories of those affected by an accident in the informational video, it was a much needed emotional rollercoaster to teach us all about the dangers of distracted driving. I for one know that the Distracted Driving Event opened my eyes as I hope it does for many others as they continue to do what they do best at other schools.