See more photos of Prom Promise at: http://community.coastalcourier.com/gallery/detail/3216/
Just outside the track at Bradwell Institute, near the bleachers, sat two cars that collided into each other. Among the shattered glass and bent metal was a driver under the influence in one vehicle and, in the other, victims of the accident.
Fortunately, this wasn’t a real accident but a simulation of the consequences of driving under the influence.
Prom Promise 2015 was designed to bring awareness to the consequences of drinking and driving and distracted driving on prom night. After attending a group meeting with Principal Scott Carrier about prom and watching a video about Chris Sandy, who plead guilty to two counts of vehicular manslaughter by DUI, the students gathered onto the field to interact with realistic scenarios and presentations on what occurs at a crash scene.
Groups of students moved through different stations that included: a discussion on how the body is affected when a car rolls over, seat-belt safety, the fines incurred from a DUI accident, students wearing vision-impaired goggles while attempting to walk the line as part of a field-sobriety test, driving a golf cart through an obstacle course with those goggles, and signing the Prom Promise.
The Prom Promise states: “I will drive safely and responsibly. I will obey all traffic laws and will not drive while distracted. I will not drive when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. I will not get into a vehicle when the driver is under the influence.”
The culmination of the event was a staged wreck between two vehicles with emergency medical personnel responding to the scene. With the participation of staff and members of the Bradwell Institute Parent Teacher Organization, acting in the roles of the crash victims and drunk driver, the students saw firsthand what happens at an accident, and the lifesaving measures that occur.
The drunk driver was arrested, while firefighters checked on the victims and used equipment to break the windows and cut open the cars. The Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter landed on the field and rushed over to the scene to transport the victims to the hospital.
Cole Coston, an 18-year-old senior, was participating in his second Prom Promise.
“So far I’ve seen the rollover truck simulator and I’ve seen the station where you get to put on the beer goggles and drive a golf cart,” he said. “The man that was running the simulation of the rollover shared a very personal story. He was a police officer and lost his son in a DUI accident. That was really touching and encouraging not to do it.”
When asked what advice he would give to other teens, he said: “Know that it could happen to you. So many kids these days think that it won’t happen to them, it’s something they see on TV or hear in the news. But it definitely can, so make wise decisions.”
Another senior, Miriam Madison, 18, said she was mainly affected by two parts.
“One was the driving simulation, and that’s because it inhibits your vision so that you can’t see,” she said. “So you’re experiencing what it would be like if you were to be put in that situation. Then you have to amp it up 10 times because there’s so many risks, with other people driving on the road...
“At another station, you talk to the officer about the fines you have to pay if you violate the law and drink and drive at prom,” she continued. “For the first offense it’s over $1,500 — that’s a mortgage. If you can’t pay the bond, you have to do that time. You’re wasting time, and it takes away from your future. At this point in life, when you’re graduating and getting out of high school, it stops you from fulfilling a lot of your dreams.”
The most popular station with the students was driving the golf carts with the impaired vision goggles, Assistant Principal Jason Stickler said.
“I think the reason is because they are actively engaged in that and it related to what we’re trying to teach,” he said. “We’re able to simulate what would happen if they were driving under the influence.”
Participants in this year’s Prom Promise included: the Liberty County Sheriff’s Office, Liberty County Coroner’s Office, Hinesville Police Department, Hinesville Fire Department, Air Evac Lifeteam, BI PTO, U.S. Army Substance Abuse Program, Fort Stewart soldiers and the Coastal Area Traffic Enforcement Network.