Virtual Educational Experience for Teens
Preventing Distracted Driving
According to a Wood TV 8 news release on July 22, 2015, a 16-year-old distracted driver was driving eastbound when she ran a stop sign and continued east onto the gravel portion of the road. The teen veered off the road, over corrected and lost control. Her vehicle traveled sideways through a field and the front yard of a nearby home, striking a tree. It appears the teen was distracted by her cellphone and speed is believed to be a factor. Although the driver was not injured, the accident is why Project Save Our Children is so important.
Project Save Our Children is a distracted driving prevention program of Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals that is funded through charitable donations. It targets ninth-grade students in Montcalm County-area high schools. Teens participating in this program have a simulated, real life experience of what it feels like to drive distracted or under the influence of drugs and alcohol. This is a controlled environment with interactive software and specifically designed equipment. Adults are on hand to supervise and explain the simulated experiences as the teens interact with the program equipment. “Young drivers have spent less time behind the wheel and do not have previous experience to draw on. We’re here to help them make healthy decisions,” said Norma Sower, Spectrum Health United and Kelsey Hospitals Community Education Supervisor. “Our focus is on what the experience is like. We can tell kids all day long what is going to happen when distracted, but it’s the actual experience they remember and hopefully think about when driving.”
Participating teens tell us the program is effective because the simulations reinforce other media campaigns about the dangers of texting, alcohol and drug distractions. Teens are sharing their experiences with family and friends. This collaborative program brings schools, law enforcement, local media, generous community partners, volunteers and parents together to make a difference in the communities we serve through education and prevention. Thank you!