SWR High School Students Pledge to “Drive Alive”

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Every year, there are 40,000 deaths nationally due to texting and talking on the phone while driving, and students at Shoreham-Wading River High School are trying to make a dent in this statistic. This week, students participated in a three-part program designed to heighten their awareness not only about texting and talking on a cell phone while driving, but on the effects of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The program was sponsored in part by a $1,000 grant from Allstate insurance agent Beth Hanlon, who was on hand with office manager Jackie Messineo to discuss with the students the dangers of texting while driving.
    
A driving simulator provided by the Drive Alive Tour was parked outside for each student to test his or her skills, mimicking alcohol’s effects on driving. Driver awareness instructor Storn Olson guided the students in the handling of the computerized driving experience while he explained the cost of being arrested under the influence. He encouraged the students to turn down a ride from an intoxicated friend or one who has had even a couple of drinks. “Make sure you have the number of a responsible adult,” he remarked.
    
The students also joined Suffolk County Police Officers Christopher Albano and Robert Diamond, who demonstrated the steps police take in testing drivers who are suspected of being under the influence. Students volunteered to “walk the line” and take a breathalyzer test. They watched coverage and interviews of teens who had been in accidents after drinking, texting, or talking on cell phones while behind the wheel.       Ms. Hanlon also provided information about texting while driving and asked students to place a thumbprint on a sign as their pledge to “X the Text.”
    
Additionally, the program’s message was reinforced with the placement of a totaled vehicle on school grounds by Liberty Mutual Insurance Company. The car served as a reminder of the perils of unsafe behavior behind the wheel of a car.   
 
Principal Daniel Holtzman has held similar programs for several years. “It is important for the students to be aware of the dangers of texting, talking on phones, and drinking while driving. I believe programs like these help to increase their awareness and decrease some of this behavior behind the wheel,” he stated.