According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, alcohol use is widespread among today’s teenagers.
• Nearly three quarters of students (72 percent) have consumed alcohol (more than just a few sips) by the end of high school.
• More than one-third (37 percent) have done so by eighth grade.
Students at Liberty County High School learned about the dangers of drinking and driving Wednesday morning ahead of this weekend’s prom and the upcoming spring break.
Law enforcement officials and school administrators said operation Prom Promise, which is designed to educate teens about the hazards of driving impaired, included live exercises conducted at the school to help students make better decisions — choices that may save lives.
“Our target is to educate the students who are attending prom this weekend. We want to educate them about the hazards of drinking and driving,” Liberty County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Capt. David Edwards said.
“Kids are going to be kids and we know, historically, that during this special time of the year they want to go out and have a good time. And we want to educate them in the area of drinking and driving so they can go out and have a good time but not drink and drive because the effects of drinking and driving could last a lifetime.”
Law enforcement officers from the LCSO, Hinesville Police Department, Georgia State Patrol, Liberty EMS, the county coroner’s office, Hinesville Fire Department and Air Evac Life Team helicopter services, which is based in Brunswick, participated in a mock traffic accident scenario.
Students also took part in a DUI simulator by driving golf carts around safety cones while wearing specialized goggles that simulate what it’s like to operate a vehicle with a blood alcohol level of .08 or higher, Edwards said.
GSP brought a rollover simulator, which demonstrated what could happen to victims of a rollover accident if they are not wearing seat belts.
Event attendees also witnessed a live simulation of a two-vehicle accident. In the scenario, one victim was pronounced dead on the scene and the other victim sustained critical injuries. Edwards emphasized to students how the loss of one life — or sustaining serious injuries — forever changes families.
In the mock accident, students watched as one victim was covered by a blanket and later taken away in a hearse.
Firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extract the second victim from the vehicle. EMS personnel secured the victim on a backboard, hooked the victim up to oxygen and intravenous medication and transported the victim to an ambulance. A helicopter was flown in to show students how severe trauma victims are transported.
LCSO Sheriff Steve Sikes said the exercise is a great example of how emergency personnel cross jurisdictional lines to provide aide during emergency situations to better serve the public. He added the entire event emphasized just how serious drinking and driving is — especially for minors.
“If this program will prevent just one person from losing their life, then it is well-worth the time and effort,” Sikes said.
LCHS Principal Paula Scott said teachers and school administrators have been talking to students about not drinking and driving, making smart choices and obeying curfew laws in hopes of keeping prom attendees safe this weekend.
“I think it’s a great opportunity for them to see the reality and the danger of drinking and driving,” Scott said.
“I’m a realistic person and I know that not every student is going to take this as seriously as we want them to … But if it makes a difference for them and makes them make better choices over prom weekend and spring break, then it’s a worthwhile effort. We really appreciate the sheriff’s department in putting this on for us.”
Edwards said they have been fortunate in the past few years, having received few DUI calls on prom weekends but added, “I hope it’s because our DUI-education program is working. The students come out here and they tell people about what they’ve seen and their experience out here.”