By REBEKAH BROWN & RACHAEL McCAULEY
On Oct. 25, Geof Crankshaw, Community Traffic Safety Project coordinator, held an assembly at Cranberry High School to help spread awareness for National Teen Driver Safety Week.
Many teens are aware of certain dangers of driving such as driving under the influence, but many don’t realize the risks that are involved with actions as simple as loud music or cell phone usage.
Crankshaw brought in speakers to advocate for safe driving using presentations. He also had a motorcycle safety program and impaired and distracted driver simulators.
The assembly started off with a presentation by Michelle Johnson. “Every year about 4,000 teens die in car crashes each year,” she said.
This topic is very important to Johnson because of the loss of her son, Conner, due to a car accident in 2011. She now travels to local school districts during National Teen Driver Safety Week and shares safe driving tips with teens.
Johnson said that almost anything can impact driving: “Car crashes are the #1 cause of deaths among teens.” Texting, putting on lipstick, eating, and having distracting passengers can cause car crashes.
Johnson went over three reasons why texting and driving can cause a crash: hands off of the wheel, eyes off of the road, and mind off of the driving.
Johnson recommends all drivers and passengers wear seat belts because lives can be saved.
Students were then lead outside to listen to the fundamentals of avoiding a motorcycle crash.
The presenter, Bobby Fitzmayer, then shared a personal story about his experience with a motorcycle crash. “Accidents happen in a blink of an eye,” he said.
Fitzmayer explained to the students about how a motorcycle’s traction to the road gets less and less the more you lean. Fitzmayer brought along a motorcycle equipped with special equipment to show the student what it feels like to lean too far on a motorcycle.
“You have about one second to react after losing traction to the road,” he said.
Fitzmayer reminded the students to always wear a helmet and protective clothing while riding a motorcycle.
Following the motorcycle safety program, students were able to use impaired and distracted driving simulators. The simulations consisted of a monitor, steering wheel, and brake and accelerator pedals.
By using these simulators, students were given first hand experience on what it is like to be behind the wheel while impaired or distracted. The simulators were brought to the assembly in hopes that they will prevent students from performing unsafe actions behind the wheel.
Cranberry High School’s staff and students are very thankful for Crankshaw and his team for coming in and holding the safe driving assembly. Students were further educated on the dangers of impaired and distracted driving, and this assembly helped to spread awareness for National Teen Driver Safety Week.
Story, video and photos provided by student members of Cranberry Chronicles, Cranberry High School’s journalism/publications group.