Valuable life lesson

Gowanda learns dangers of drunk driving, texting while driving

OBSERVER Photo by Andrew David Kuczkowski From left, SADD Club Advisor Shannon Styles, Zach Carroll, Jacob Hostetter, Abbey Phillips, Prince Seneca, Sydney Blocher, Kylie Russell, Deputy Ben Shields. The group was an integral part in bringing the National Save A Life Program to Gowanda Tuesday morning.

GOWANDA — 2017 has many benefits — like the features to the brand-new cell phones and the technology integrated into cars. Despite these advancements, one thing that is still prevalent is distracted driving, whether it’s via texting or drinking alcohol, or both.

Gowanda High School took proactive measures from its SADD Club and Student Resource Officer Ben Shields, who was appointed this past spring. The duo brought in the National Save A Life Tour.

The assembly began with a presentation and a 25-minute video, which described the story of a worst-case scenario of distracted driving. A driver was texting, crossing into the opposing traffic, side-swiped the car and the non-texting vehicle spun out and was impacted by a tractor-trailer behind the texting driver. Both died inside of the vehicle that collided with the tractor-trailer.

SADD Club Advisor Shannon Styles, with the help of Shields, put together the event. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect as homecoming nears.

“We have homecoming next weekend, so it is a really good timing that we are doing this,” Styles said. “I think it’s a matter of them getting hands on experience because all kids think that, ‘It’s never going to happen to me.’ As long as we show them this actually happens is all we can do.”

Along with the presentation, students got a chance to put themselves behind the wheel in two simulators. One acted out as an intoxicated driver. While behind the wheel, there would be a delayed reaction like when someone is intoxicated. The pedal would not coordinate immediately nor would the steering wheel.

“I was a terrible, terrible driver,” said ninth-grader Alexis John and she added, “No, (I have not driven before.) I sat in my dad’s lap before and pretend steered, but that’s about it.”

The second simulator was on the texting aspect. The drivers would have a phone in their right hand and would practice texting while following road signs and traffic. Not many did so well as collisions occurred with walls, trees and some police cars.

The video presentation hopes to drive home the possibility that it could be any student within Gowanda High School. No matter how great the iPhone screen gets nor how amazing cars get at automatically parallel parking, if the driver behind the wheel is distracted, their life and others on the road with them are in danger.

Twitter: @Kuczkowski95