Eldon High School fights distracted driving with crash simulation

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COLUMBIA- It's a statistic that makes parents cringe.

According to MoDOT, 50 percent of teen drivers say that they text while they drive, and 80 percent of crashes involve some sort of distracted driving. 

But it's not just a Missouri problem. The official U.S. government website for distracted driving said anything can take a driver's attention away from the road, even if it's just adjusting the radio or talking to passengers.

According to DistractedDriving.gov, the average amount of time a driver's eyes are off the road is five seconds.

That's enough time to cover the length of a football field blindfolded. 

One mid-Missouri high school is taking steps to ensure its students know all of these dangers and how to make sure they drive safely.
Students at Eldon High School experienced a live demonstration of a car crash on Friday, organized by the school nurse, Juanita Jarrett.
Jarrett said the theme of the simulation is one heartbeat makes a difference. It was setup to show the students the risks associated with impaired and distracted driving. 

"The biggest point is one heartbeat makes a difference," Jarrett said. "Don't let that heartbeat be too late."

Emergency responders in Eldon collaborated with the Missouri State Highway Patrol to make the scene as real as possible for the students. Eldon Police and fire crews were dressed in full gear and treated the students for their 'injuries' including extracting a student from a wrecked car. 

Madeline Partridge, a sophomore at Eldon High School observed the simulation, and said one of the most difficult parts was seeing the student who was 'dead.'

"It was really hard," Partridge said. "It got emotional at times because especially in our school district, we've had a lot of cases where people have gotten in car accidents recently. It makes you think about it a little bit more, and I hope that everyone else felt the same way that I did."

Partridge said she thinks the simulation is something all high school students should experience.

"I hope it opens people's eyes and makes them think about their actions before they do it," Partridge said. "Because I've heard a bunch of people say 'well I'm going to go out and drink tonight' but seeing this might make it more real to them and make them think before they act." 

Jarrett said the crash simulation is something the school district has done in the past at the middle school and elementary school as well.

She said there are plans to continue the simulation to teach students about distracted driving.