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Piedmont High students learn harsh reality of distractive driving

Firefighters with Unionville Volunteer Fire Department "put out the fire" of a car involved in a mock fatal crash, part of a demonstration called VIF for a VIF given recently to about 600 Piedmont High School juniors and seniors.

With the help of about 30 local law enforcement and safety personnel who volunteered their time to help make a difference in the lives of local teenagers, Piedmont High School students got a first-hand look at the dangers of distractive driving.

The harsh reality of texting while driving and other types of distractive driving were illustrated in a mock fatal car accident demonstration with the help of the Union County Sheriff’s Office, Unionville Volunteer Fire Department and Union County EMS.

Approximately 600 Piedmont juniors and seniors were able to participate – many visibly moved by the demonstration.

“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,” said Lisa Callaham, from UCPS Support and Prevention Department.

“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,” she said.

The program was born following the tragic death of a teen driver in 1998. Two firefighters, Steve Zimmerman and Larry Cockman, who were at the scene of that deadly crash, came up with VIP for a VIP, an acronym for Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person.

This driving safety awareness program was designed to bring the reality of what they saw that day to the doorstep of high schools in the area. To date, 167 programs have been delivered reaching more than 105,000 teenagers across North Carolina.

All VIP staff members 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.

The message isn’t just dealing with driving while impaired, it is also deals with text messaging, partying in the car, aggressive driving and other distractions that can set into motion a horrifying, irreversible chain of events.

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.

Written by: Lisa Callaham, UCPS Support and Prevention Department.
Posted: Oct 08, 2013 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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