Mock crash scene delivers real message

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COLUMBIA - Team Spirit, a statewide program sponsored by the Missouri Department of Transportation, is striving to teach kids the dangers of driving under the influence with the use of a mock crash.

Students from nine Missouri high schools came to Stoney Creek Inn to take in the scene. Logan Borland, a student at Fatima High School in Westphalia, Missouri, said one moment in particular stuck out to him.

"When they were hauling off the girl that died, and they were putting her in the body bag, that's what kind of hit me the hardest because that's when it felt like it was the most serious," Borland said. "When you think about it as a real experience and you just start feeling all the emotions and if that person really had died and thinking about their family and friends and how they would have felt."

Kacey Buschjost, a youth coordinator for the Missouri Department of Transportation, said the experience was a powerful one for the students.

"It seems to hit home and bring that message home that seatbelts are important and they should be worn not just sometimes but all the time," Buschjost said.

Buschjost said drinking and driving has always been an issue, but she said another issue is growing.

"What's really becoming a bigger issue now is distracted driving," Buschjost said. "Kids will not get off their phones. We're trying to get them to put the phones down, teach them that it can wait, and just wear seatbelts."

Buschjost pointed out the same moment as Borland and said it brought a valuable lesson to the students.

"There was a fatality, and seeing that those airbags don't save you," Buschjost said. "You could still be ejected from the vehicle even when those airbags come out."

Borland said he had a serious approach to the mock crash. He said he hopes his peers learned something.

"I don't know what my friends got out of it, but I hope that they all did the same thing and try to take it seriously and realize what the purpose of it was," Borland said.

Buschjost said Team Spirit runs the mock car crash twice a year in Cape Girardeau and Columbia. More information on the program can be found on the Missouri Department of Transportation website.