So many questions arise at this time of year: What to wear to the prom? Whom to take? Where to go after graduation? And, unfortunately, to drink or not to drink?
Greenfield High School seniors received help with the last question when they heard from representatives of the Weakley County Health Department, Weakley County Prevention Coalition, Tennessee Highway Patrol, Weakley County Sheriff’s Department, and the Greenfield Police Department in a half-day presentation on drunk and distracted driving.
After hearing statistics reporting that the year-to-date total for alcohol-related driving fatalities had reached 228 statewide, and that Weakley County added 29 alcohol-related crashes to the 2017 state total of 6,000, half the class experienced what it is like to be impaired. With the use of goggles simulating various alcohol levels, students tried to pass various sobriety tests in the gym such as walking a straight line and standing with one leg raised for a count of 10.
The second half of the class went to a classroom and was simultaneously introduced to facts related to distracted driving. For instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 86-90 percent of police reported crashes involve some form of driver inattention – a number that has doubled in less than four years. They then saw a simulator that shows how not wearing a seat belt can impact the lives – in many cases ending them – of drivers and riders.
The class then switched so that all could hear the information and experience the simulations firsthand.
Suzanne Harper of the Coalition explained the timing of the presentations is intentional. “We like to schedule the presentation at this time of year because prom and graduation are typical times for underage and binge drinking.”
Tiffany Gertsch of the Health Department told the group she is a native of Greenfield and remembers the three fatalities that claimed the lives of GHS students when she was young. “I know you think it can’t happen to you, but it can. It has,” she concluded.
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