Drive Smart encourages safety for student drivers

MIAMI COUNTY — Students from Covington High School attended a Drive Smart program on Wednesday, April 27 to learn about the dangers of impaired driving firsthand. A similar mock crash was also held at Bethel High School on Tuesday.

Drive Smart is a travelling educational program done throughout Dayton area schools during prom season every other year going back over 20 years. In it, students see a narrated, simulated accident caused by an impaired driver on their way home from a prom after-party and the aftermath.

“With this kind of program, we are trying to provide students with an opportunity to see what first responders do and the outcomes of impaired driving,” said Bridgit Kerber, assistant principal at Covington High School.

The mock crash at Covington High School involved four students in a head-on collision who were said to have been less than a mile away from their home. While the student who had caused the accident by driving under the influence was fine, the other three involved in the accident were not as fortunate.

“Within 0.1 seconds, the bumpers crumbled. Within 0.2 seconds, the engine broke through the dashboard. Within 0.3 seconds, a student was ejected from the car because he was not wearing a seat belt,” said the narrator. “The number thing that can save lives is wearing a seat belt.”

Emergency responders were called to the scene, but in rural areas, that can take time. People involved in a severe accident often only have what is called a “golden hour” to begin treatment to have a high chance of survival.

Within 20 minutes, first responders were on the scene and began cutting open the cars to safely remove the victims. A helicopter was called in to take students to the nearest trauma center. The student who had been thrown from the vehicle was pronounced dead, as part of the mock crash.

The Premier Health CareFlight helicopter arrived a half-hour after the accident and carried off the two injured students leaving only a 30-minute window for treatment. The impaired driver was arrested and would face up to 15 years in prison.

The mock crash was a harrowing reminder of the dangers of driving and the responsibility of those behind the wheel.

After the simulation, a guest speaker from Piqua came on to relay the death of her son in an OVI related crash, and she implored the students to make responsible choices.

“Every decision you make has severe consequences,” the narrator reminded the students in attendance.

As students get ready for a night of festivities, Drive Smart seeks to make sure it is not for the last time. OVI related accidents accounted for 608 deaths in Ohio in 2021, all of which were preventable.

When asked if the program has been an effective preventative measure, Berger responded, “Yes, absolutely. Every year students tell me how it helped make smart decisions.”

Drive Smart program’s overall message was buckle up those seat belts, put the phones down, and do not get behind the wheel of a car while under the influence of alcohol or any other substance.