North Point High School junior Alexander Colaciello drives the Lookin Out Safety Bug through the course in the parking lot on Oct. 26. The event was sponsored by Strachan Insurance Company and facilitated by the Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Association. The event was held as part of the school systems We Care teen driving campaign. (Submitted photo)
LA PLATA, Md. (November 5, 2010)North Point and La Plata high school students continued to show We Care about safe driving last week during a hands-on exercise that is continuation of a Charles County Public Schools (CCPS) and Charles County Sheriffs Office three-year safety campaign.
As part of CCPS and the Sheriffs Office We Care teen driving initiative, the Lookin Out Safety Bug driving event was offered to students Oct. 26-27 at La Plata and North Point. The Safety Bug is a Volkswagen Beetle that has been customized to demonstrate the loss of control a person would experience if they drove a vehicle while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The event is designed to give teen drivers a firsthand learning experience and to promote safe driving.
More than 95 North Point students, as well as several staff members, drove the Bug through the course Oct. 26, which was set up in the bus parking lot. Orange cones were used to mark the course, and students were divided into groups of three to navigate the course. Students with drivers licenses and parental permission were able to drive the Bug, and two backseat riders were wearing goggles that simulated the experience of riding in a car while impaired. A trained mentor from the Pennsylvania Driving Under the Influence (DUI) Association, who provided the Bug to the schools, rode in the passenger seat and controlled the settings on the car.
With high school homecoming games and dances approaching, Sgt. Carl Rye, supervising school resource officer for Charles County Public Schools, said this was great timing for students to participate in this event. Students go through the course twice. The first time is to get them familiar with the course; the second time the mentor manipulates the controls in order to throw the driver off balance and to test their reactive timing. Hopefully these kids walk away with a positive experience and safety in mind, Rye said.
About 150 students participated in the event at La Plata on Wednesday. This is the first time the Lookin Out Safety Bug event was offered to CCPS students. Glenn Strachan and Gina McElhaney, agents with Strachan Insurance Agency, contacted Rye earlier this school year to offer the event to students in Charles County high schools. This experience provides young drivers with a hands-on experience to learn about the effects of driving under the influence. We hope students walk away from this and talk to their friends about the importance of responsible driving, McElhaney said.
Strachan Insurance Agency covered the cost of the event at both schools, which averaged about $1,100 per school. Rye said plans are underway to extend the event to other high schools later this school year. The school system and Sheriffs Office partnered three years ago to launch the We Care campaign.
This is one of numerous We Care student-oriented events that Charles County Public Schools has organized with the Sheriffs Office to emphasize the importance of teen driving. On the first day of school this year, Superintendent of Schools James E. Richmond, along with Sheriff Rex Coffey and school resource officers, greeted students as they arrived at Westlake High School and passed out flyers to remind them of safe driving rules.
Source: Charles County Public Schools