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Ahead of prom, kids simulate hazards of drunk driving

A wrecked car, taken from an actual crash site sat mangled in the Franklin High School parking lot to illustrate the tragedy that can result from drinking and driving. The car was a powerful prop during a prom and graduation safety presentation by local law enforcement and Williamson County Schools.

FHS student Sarah Inman gazed at the totaled vehicle with broken glass, fractured paint and deep gashes in the car’s disfigured frame.

“It’s sad that it can happen so fast, that lives can be lost from one, quick decision,” she said.

Another observed, “You can still see the bark stuck in the cracks.”

During the season of many prom and graduation celebrations, leaders encouraged students to stay safe and make wise decisions by eliminating alcohol from their celebratory plans, especially when behind the wheel of a car.

“All of us are here because we feel strongly about the message and are unified in spreading awareness,” said Franklin Chief of Police David Rahinsky.

Law enforcement representatives from Franklin Police, Williamson County Sheriff’s Office, Brentwood Police, Spring Hill Police and Fairview Police joined WCS Superintendent Dr. Mike Looney to show community solidarity in the message.

“Enjoy yourselves, but don’t let it turn into experiences that can derail your future,” said Rahinsky. “We have a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinkers. This is a highlight in life – keep it safe.”

Williamson County Sheriff Jeff Long said, “We will not tolerate drunk or impaired driving. One of the nation’s leading deaths is alcohol-related traffic accidents. Thirty- five percent of all crashes involve alcohol; 5,000 people die each year as a result of drinking and driving.”

Long said that five teenagers were arrested in Williamson County in 2012 due to drinking and driving.

“Don’t let one bad decision destroy your life or the life of someone else,” said Brentwood Assistant Chief of Police Tommy Walsh.

Students experienced the reality of impaired driving during a DUI simulation by driving a golf cart – zig-zaging between orange cones – while wearing “fatal vision goggles” that mimic the effects of alcohol impairment by altering one’s vision, perception and balance.

“It was harder than I thought it would be,” said Benjy Woodward, sophomore, after he drove the golf cart. “I didn’t feel normal. My vision was impaired, and it was hard to focus. I just couldn’t straighten out the golf cart.”

Woodward knocked down several cones, which FPD Officer Rachel Gober, who led the simulation, warned earlier could just as easily had been a mailbox or a child.

“The simulation is a good way to influence kids to make good decisions and warn them about the danger of drinking and driving,” said Shauna Dixon, who is the FHS criminal justice teacher who served with the Metro Nashville Police Department for eight years.

“I heard that some of my friends were planning on drinking and were also planning on driving, but after this message, I think that will change,” Mattie Eubanks, FHS junior, said.

“We are trying to raise awareness among students and let them know that we care,” Looney said. “We want them know the truth about what will happen if they are caught and how drinking alcohol, or texting, while driving can put their lives and others’ lives at risk.”

The Franklin High School prom will take place Saturday night at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel and Convention Center.

Posted on: 4/19/2013


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