BALLWIN, Mo. – Students are heading back to school which means there will be an increase of teen drivers back on the road. In an effort to keep our roads safe, the National Charity League’s St. Louis chapter partnered with the West County Safety House to remind students there are consequences to unsafe driving.
In 2018, approximately 2,500 teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 were killed in motor vehicle crashes. Every 48 minutes, someone dies because of a drunk driver in the United States. Every two minutes, a person is injured in a drunk driving crash and, every day, 11 teenagers die because they were texting while driving.
These statistics are staggering, but sharing them with young drivers only goes so far. Monday evening the West County Safety House has used DWI crash simulations in the past with high schoolers to drive home the reality of the horrors that can follow from not driving responsibly.
“Not only is it to bring awareness of the consequences of drunk driving,” said Executive Director of West County Safety House Kelly Cobb, “most importantly, these days, it’s important to bring awareness to the consequences of unsafe driving behaviors such as texting and driving, drowsy driving, and just not paying attention to the road.”
Mother and daughter members of the NCL watched as young volunteers from the organization acted out a crash scene. The students were able to see, hear, and smell what an actual accident looks like. Ladue High senior Emily Walker said seeing something like this left an impression on her like no other.
“I thought that I’d know it was fake so I didn’t think I was going to feel as much as I did, but it really was stressful to watch and hear the sounds, and seeing the blood everywhere was very impactful,” she said.
Walker went on to say she feels this kind of simulation event should be mandatory for all young drivers to attend.
Megan Seeling is the Immediate Past President of the National Charity League, St. Louis Chapter who was present at the event and served as an actor. Her daughter, Quinn, a high school senior and NCL member, helped organize the simulation and also acted as one of the crash victims on the scene.
“Driving under the influence is something [Quinn] feels strongly about and wanted to do this at the beginning of the school year as a very timely reminder to her peers and the community members to think before they drive,” said Seeling.
Kelly Grassmuck, the Deputy Chief of West County EMS & Fire, has responded to drunk driving and teen texting accidents in the past and says simulations like the one he helped put together on Monday are nearly spot-on to real accidents. He says the emotion teenagers feel from seeing a crash scene, even a fake one, is enough to make a lasting impact.
“I think for them to actually see what goes into this and the fire trucks that show up, the personnel on the scene, the sound of the tools and the crunchy metal, it becomes very real, and I think you can see that impact on the student’s faces,” Grassmuck said.
The West County Safety House and EMS & Fire team will host another DWI crash simulation on October 11. All high school-aged students and their parents are invited to attend the event.