Archived Stories for Union County Public Schools
Piedmont High students learn about driving safety
VIP for a VIP (Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person) is a driving safety awareness program that was conceived in 1998 when off-duty firefighters Steve Zimmerman and Larry Cockman came upon a vehicle accident that had just occurred involving two teens who had decided to skip school that day. The driver had lost control of the vehicle and struck a bridge column, ejecting her from the vehicle, which came to rest on top of her taking her life. In the days following the accident, Steve and Larry struggled with this senseless loss and purposed to develop a program to educate teens by bringing the reality of what they saw that day to the doorstep of high schools in the area. The first VIP for a VIP program was delivered in the spring of 1998, and has been delivered to North Carolina high schools every spring and fall since that time. To date, 167 programs have been delivered reaching over over 105,000 teenagers.
VIP for a VIP is a non-profit organization, relying solely on donations to travel the state and conduct the program. There is never a charge to the high schools to host the event. All VIP staff are firefighters, using off-duty and vacation days to travel around the state to meet program demands. Local law enforcement, firefighters and EMS are used to carry out much of the event. At Piedmont High School, approximately 30 local law and safety personnel volunteered their time to assist with the event.
VIP for a VIP's mission is to bring the sights, sounds and smells of a fatal vehicle accident to the doorstep of high school students in a dramatic way in hopes of embedding the consequences of these often senseless events into the minds of teenage drivers. Their vision is that, at the end of the day, students will have a realistic picture of what can happen as a result of one moment of inattention. It is not just driving while impaired, it is also sending that quick text message, partying in the car, aggressive driving and other distractions that set into motion a horrifying, irreversible chain of events.
Approximately 600 Piedmont juniors and seniors were able to participate, and many were visibly moved and impacted.
Written by: Lisa Callaham
Posted: Oct 08, 2013 by Lisa Callaham