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Posted: October 17, 2013 7:29 p.m.

Driving home the dangers

Alcovy High students get lesson in texting,driving

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Juniors and seniors at Alcovy High School received a dose of "reality" Thursday as a mock accident depicted what could happen when motorists choose to combine texting and driving.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office, local firefighters, emergency medical services, Life Flight, the 911 Center and other agencies joined together to act out the 2013 Alcovy High School Reality Wreck, Distracted Driver.

Students looked on grimly as AHS Drama Club students Jonathan Hall, Alex Daniel, Bailee Gunnells, Tyler Geirrein, Iteonna Bailey, Jessica Bolton and Tyler Curry played the roles of injured accident victims. Some student "victims’’ were taken away in ambulances; others were aided by first responders. One student was even zipped up in a body bag as he acted as a fatality on the scene.

Deputy Felicia Jefferson, NCSO public information officer, said the mock accident happened when a 17-year-old driver crossed the center line on the road while texting and crashed into another vehicle.

The accident, students were told, resulted in two fatalities, four people injured and the driver being arrested and charged with two counts of vehicular homicide, failure to maintain lane and texting while driving.

"I don’t think a lot of students know that texting is very distracting," Jefferson said. "This can impact themselves, other drivers, family members and the community as a whole."

Before the mock accident, deputies talked about the dangers of distracted driving.

Students were told that, according to the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, new national data is showing that driver inattention is a key cause in most crashes and near-crashes.

In addition, in a 2006 study of real-world driver behavior, distractions and crash factors, about 80 percent of crashes were caused by some form of distraction, such as cellphone use/texting or being tired, occurring within seconds of the accident.

Students also were told that a study conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that drivers who frequently engage in the most distracting activities are more likely to be
involved in inattention-related crashes or near-crashes.

An NCSO deputy noted that in Newton County, there have been 13 fatal traffic accidents so far in 2013. 

Newton County Coroner Tommy Davis and deputies Jack Redlinger and Patrick Gilbert told students the hardest part of working an accident is informing family members that a victim has died at the scene.

Jefferson said students from the Newton College and Career Academy filmed the mock accident and will produce a video for other high schools.

Alcovy High Principal Sandra Owens said AHS students also filmed the accident, and the video will be shown to underclassmen.

Owens said not only does the Reality Wreck display the dangers of texting while driving; it also  showcases law enforcement, emergency services and first responders in a "positive light."

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