North Johnston High School recently drove home a powerful message about safe driving.
Students there attended “VIP for a VIP,” or Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person. The program included testimony from emergency responders, video and PowerPoint presentations and a reenactment of a fatal teen accident.
“Every decision you make has a consequence, but sometimes it can cause you your life,” said Bre Woodruff, a senior at North Johnston. “It really made you think about the risks that you have at stake, not just now but in every decision.”
Students also heard from Ricky Richardson, who lost his son, Reece, a former North Johnston student, in an accident in January 2007.
More than 40 percent of teen deaths occur in motor vehicle accidents, according to statistics from VIP for a VIP. Most of the accidents stem from a poor driving decision.
“North Carolina is one of the leading states for teen fatalities, teen deaths and automobile accidents,” said Daryl Cash, a VIP for a VIP team member. “It’s our goal to get out and reach out and try to work with the teens to help lower the numbers to zero if at all possible.”
The Micro Fire Department, Kenly Fire Department, Johnston County EMS, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, N.C. Highway Patrol and N.C. Wildlife Commission presented information to the teen drivers and their families.
“Please be careful, because that vehicle is just like a weapon,” said Chief Paul Whitehurst of the Kenly Fire Department. “Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t speed. Be safe. Always be aware, because it only takes a couple of seconds to be involved in an accident.”
Students and parents were encouraged to sign the VIP Contract for Life.
“The Life Contract is commitment of making the right choices and consequences in life,” said Cash. “Doing the right thing, picking up the phone, calling someone and not doing some of the things that you shouldn’t do as a teenager.”
The contract ask students to adhere to safe driving, a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol and to call parents instead of driving while impaired.
“It’s hard enough to have teenagers today to step up and say, ‘Hey I’ve done something wrong; I didn’t mean to, but now I need to get home safely,’ ” said Cash. “Our message to parents would be to go pick the teenager up and let them have that one free. I hate to say free but let them have that one free and get them home safely. That’s the whole goal.”