Teen-involved crash numbers on downward trend


PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich.(WOOD) — Austin Hendrick doused himself in fake blood and crammed his knees behind the wheel of a pre-crumpled vehicle for good reason Friday.

“It’s to kind-of open kids’ eyes to the fact this does happen and that kids aren’t invincible,” said the Northview High Senior.

Hendrick was among several students taking part in a mock crash. The scenario:

  • A teen in one vehicle is texting and crosses the center line, hitting Hendrick’s vehicle.
  • Young passengers in both vehicle are killed.
  • The texting driver goes to jail.

Local emergency crews added to the realism which played out in front on Northview students. It’s the third year for the demonstration.

And those involved are convinced it made a difference.

“It’s hard to measure other than the students coming up to us afterwards and saying ‘Ya know, this made a difference in my life,'” says Plainfield firefighter Kyle Svoboda, who helped arrange the event.

“This is peer driven. These are the students that are in the vehicles. This is driven by them. They talk about it; they set is up. It’s driven by them so it gets brought back in to the school afterwards and talked about.”

These mock crashes are one way to get the point across to teens about the dangers of risky driving.

There are many others, but are they making a difference?

The numbers suggest they are.

Statistics from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning show fatal crashes involving drivers between the ages of 16 and 20 have dropped from 174 in 2008 to 142 in 2012.

OHSP credits changes to the Michigan’s Graduated Driver License law with helping push the downward trends in crashes.

In 2011, more restrictions were placed on night time driving by young people.

Kelsey’s law went into effect in 2013, banning cell phone use by young drivers.

While there’s no indication on how much mock crashes have on reducing accident involving young drivers, safety experts at OHSP says at least it gets the conversation going.

“Our goals isn’t to reach everyone, because we know that’s impossible,” says Hendrick before firefighters ripped off the door of the vehicle he was in as part of the mock effort to save him.

“But if we just save one kid who decides he won’t ever text and drive again, that’s a win.”
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