The 2015 eleventh annual Regional Awareness Program, sponsored by the Center for Instruction, Technology and Innovation, was eye-opening, moving students to make better, safer driving decisions.
Perhaps the most touching informational display was the victim impact panel by Oswego County STOP DWI. Three individuals who suffered a tragedy relating to irresponsible driving shared their stories of loss.
Tracy Woodmancy lost a daughter in 2008 when a drunk driver slammed into her family’s vehicle over spring break. Tears swelled as she looked at her daughter’s slideshow pictures.
“Today without her is not the same. I think about her every day,” said Woodmancy. “I come to these events because I care about people, and I don’t want them to live the life that I do.”
Shelly Potter had a 14-month-old boy and a daughter on the way when she lost her husband due to a drunk driver. “He is out living his life,” she said. “I got a life sentence.”
Potter presented three poster boards of pictures: the first of her husband before he died, the second of the crash and the third of life moments that he has missed such as graduations, weddings and grandchildren.
She relayed how difficult it was to re-live the experience day-in and day-out, but the task was worth it if she could save future lives.
Wendy Peters does not have any memory of the day she almost died or of the 30 days she spent in the hospital afterward. She was the passenger in a vehicle driven by someone who had been drinking.
The driver died instantly in the collision.
Peters was lucky to have survived with a crushed leg and arm, a ruptured spleen, lacerated liver and brain injury.
She died three times on the operation table.
“I have had to live with the guilt of why I survived and they didn’t,” said Peters. “It’s not just the people in the car crash that are affected. It’s also friends, family and the community.”
District Attorney Greg Oakes summed up what the speakers were trying to say to their audience: “Driving is not a right, it’s a privilege. It’s more than that, it’s a responsibility.” He encouraged students to always have a plan for events like prom and to make safe driving choices.
After the victim impact panel, attendees were able to select three additional programs to visit. Among the interactive displays available were a vehicle rollover simulator from the New York State Police department, fatal vision goggles with the Oswego City Police Department and a texting and driving simulator from AT&T.
AT&T’s Jarrid Pearson demonstrated that “distracted driving accidents are not accidents, they are choices” with a texting and driving simulator. No student was able to perform without consequences when attempting to send a text message while driving.
Pearson stated that no text message was worth a life and encouraged students to turn their phones off while driving, ignore incoming calls and messages or utilize AT&T’s free DriveMode app that allows users to set up an automatic message for incoming calls.
Students were challenged to sign a #itcanwait poster as a pledge to never text and drive.
Trooper Alan Heath with the New York State Police demonstrated what happens to passengers when they are and are not wearing a seat belt during a vehicle rollover simulation.
It was evident to onlookers that the dummies inside the vehicle suffered significant more injuries when neglecting to belt up.
Heath assured students and parents that chances of survival during a crass drastically increase just by fastening a seat belt.
The RAP program is scheduled each year in early spring to coincide with the change in weather, and also serves as a reminder to make good driving decisions just prior to prom season.