HOULKA – Bad decisions can change a driver’s life in an instant.
More than 150 Houlka High School students watched videos and heard Mississippi Highway Patrolman Criss Turnipseed talk about the pitfalls of drinking while driving, texting and doing any kind of activity that impairs driving at a class assembly Friday at Houlka Attendance Center.
“No one in this school is over 21 and so I know you can’t buy alcohol and don’t drink,” said Turnipseed. “I also know that you go to parties and bonfires where there is a somebody with something.
“And the worst part is through my job I see what alcohol, drug use and texting does to you young drivers,” said Turnipseed. “You don’t think it will ever happen to you, but it does. Please listen to what these videos say and make good decisions with your life.”
Turnipseed did not lecture students but played a series of two- and three-minute videos that showed the impact of distracted driving on students, family and friends.
“There will 38,025 people arrested for DUI in Mississippi in 2012,” said Turnipseed. “And we did not catch all of them out there. You can be doing everything right and still be killed by a drunken driver.”
Turnipseed showed a photo taken on U.S. Highway 82 where a drunken MSU student drove the wrong way on a divided highway and hit an 18-wheeler head-on. He told of telling parents and friends about someone who has died in an accident while texting on a phone.
“What are you willing to die for?” Turnipseed asked. “A phone call? What is so important that you have to talk to someone on the phone while you are driving?”
Turnipseed pointed out a car travels more than 100-yards in the four seconds it takes to send or read a text.
“There are about six-feet between the cars you pass on a two-lane highway and that’s not a lot of room for error,” said Turnipseed. “Driving requires 100 percent of your attention 100 percent of the time. Yes, driving is a lot of fun, but it is very serious and you take on a lot of responsibility. Don’t be distracted by anything – stay focused when you are behind the wheel.”
Houlka School Nurse Chandra Warren said the assembly and program was scheduled to coincide with the Houlka High School prom and she felt students got the message.
“I watched these kids while they were watching those videos,” said Warren. “When parents, teachers or police tell kids something, they don’t always want to believe it. Those videos were graphic and well done. I think it hammered the message home.”
Warren said while 7th and 8th grade students have not started driving the presentation did have an effect on upperclassmen.
“Those kids know the cost of distracted driving,” said Warren. “If we can stop an accident from happening, this presentation has done its job.”
Houlka has seen several students injured in auto accidents over the past several year and students, parents and teachers know how fast a car wreck can happen.