(MINOCQUA, WI) – On Wednesday, October 9, students at Lakeland Union High School (LUHS) in Minocqua took part in a program designed to give them a lesson on the dangers of driving while distracted. A road course was created in the parking lot of the high school for students to navigate through.
Law Dogs Driver Education, Howard Young Medical Center (HYMC), and LUHS teamed up to simulate what it feels like to be distracted behind the wheel. Ty Peterson owns and operates Law Dogs and allowed students to get behind the wheel of his driver education car. While Peterson navigated students through the course and monitored the progress from inside the vehicle, HYMC emergency department manager, Sheila Meyer, talked to the students on a cell phone to see how they would respond while driving distracted. The next time through the course the students were asked to text while driving to show how their actions would affect decision making behind the wheel. Members of the HYMC emergency department staff tossed a ball in front of the car to simulate a child crossing a road.
“I’m very involved in the trauma program at HYMC and I approached LUHS Assistant Principal Justin Szews with the idea of hosting a distracted driving event in the high school parking lot,” said Lori Goff, RN, HYMC emergency department. “I have taken care of students, and adults, who have been involved in distracted driving accidents, whether it’s on the phone, reaching for something they dropped on the floor, or texting.”
Szews and Ty Peterson also thought it was a beneficial exercise for the Lakeland students. “Our students were very receptive to the idea of testing their concentration behind the wheel,” said Szews. “Hopefully they walked away with a better understanding about how difficult it is to concentrate on the road when they’re distracted.”
The project consisted of a cone course in the LUHS parking lot, and 20 students took part in the exercise. “None of them passed the test,” added Peterson, who joined the exercise from the front seat of his driver’s education car while the students attempted the route. “I noticed a big difference in their ability to drive while talking on the phone or texting.”
In addition to the road course, the Department of Transportation set up a rollover simulator outside the cafeteria to demonstrate the dangers of not wearing a seatbelt. During the simulation, the car rolled over several times until three mannequins were flown violently out the open windows.
"I hope the students got a better understanding of the activities they’re doing outside of driving may affect their ability behind the wheel,” said Meyer. “One mistake could lead to a lifetime consequence.”
“We wanted the kids to see that the decisions they make while driving can impact lives, their own as well as others," added Goff. "We need them to realize how much one text can impact decisions on the road."
Joining Lori Goff and Sheila Meyer from Howard Young Medical Center were Colleen Mueller, RN, Chris Johnson, RN, Mark Dascalos, EMS manager, and Jessica Mabie, HYMC paramedic.
For information on Law Dogs Driver Education, please call 715.892.4329, or visit www.lawdogsdrive.com.