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Driving home a tragic lesson

Tenth grade students at Jefferson High School in Alexandria watched as the dangers of distracted driving were portrayed during the mock car crash on Wednesday morning. (Photo by Lowell Anderson)1 / 2
An officer covered the body of a student who "died" in the mock crash. (Photo by Lowell Anderson)2 / 2

Although the crash, the blood and the screams were all fake, the lesson they delivered was all too real.

Don't send text messages when you are driving. It could cost a life.

Jefferson High School 10th grade students learned about the consequences of distracted driving during a mock car crash staged at the school Wednesday morning.

It was sponsored by the Douglas County Safe Communities Coalition. Its mission is to decrease traffic-related injuries and fatalities through collaborative and partnership efforts.

The goal of the event: Send students a sobering message about the importance of seat belt use and the dangers of distractions while driving.

First, the students watched a video in the school gym, showing young people in a vehicle, taking photos on their cell phones.

The students then went outside near the parking lot to the site of a staged but realistic accident site. The T-bone crash happened because one of the drivers was paying more attention to their phone than the road.

The drama unfolded with other touches of realism: Police officers and ambulance personnel responded and a LifeLink helicopter landed at the scene.

Afterward, the "victims" came forward to tell the students how their lives had changed because of those few seconds of inattention behind the wheel.

"This event is intended to be a tragic and graphic event to bring reality to the decisions we make that can impact the lives of our friends, family and community members," noted coalition leaders in a letter that was sent to JHS parents informing them about the mock crash.

Parents were also invited to attend the event.

Students who were uncomfortable about seeing such a graphic portrayal of a crash could opt out.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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