MANSFIELD — The Tioga County Partnership’s Safe Kids Coalition held three Safe Teen Driver events at all three Tioga County school districts.
Each event featured distracted and impaired virtual driving simulators, “fatal vision” goggles and safe driving education stations. By participating, teens became eligible to win Amazon gift cards.
The Tioga County Partnership’s Safe Kids Coalition partnered with PennDOT for events at Cowanesque Valley High School Oct. 21, Wellsboro Area High School Oct. 23, and North-Penn Mansfield High School on Oct. 25.
Teens attended “Survival 101” presentations with state police trooper Angela Bieber and Wellsboro police department officer Mitch Christman. They talked about the importance of seat belt use, the dangers of impaired driving, and the laws and dangers of texting while driving.
Afterward, teens visited safe driving education stations set up around the perimeter of the all-purpose rooms or gymnasium, including a station where virtual driving simulators let teens choose to experience “distracted” or “impaired” virtual driving.
To make it as real as possible, the “distracted” setting on the simulator included voices of teen passengers who asked the driver to complete tasks while driving, such as texting a friend or calling home.
The “fatal vision” goggles stations exposed teens to the dangerous disorientation of alcohol and marijuana impairment. While wearing the goggles, teens were asked to try simple tasks such as counting out change, or walking a line, similar to a roadside sobriety test.
Another station included an awareness game, the “Wheel of Misfortune,” which included safe driving trivia questions.
The final station asked each teen to take the “Park the Phone: Stop the Texts, Stop the Wrecks” pledge.
Students were eligible to enter a drawing for one of three Amazon gift cards if they could prove their participation in each station by collecting all station facilitators’ signatures.
Safe Kids Coalition members and community organizations who helped plan and volunteered at these events included Kim Smith and Mike Deihl of PennDOT/the Highway Safety Network, Geisinger Trauma Care nurse Deb Erdmann, officer Mitch Christman of Wellsboro Police Dept., First Citizens Community Bank, Amerihealth Caritas Northeast, UPMC Susquehanna (Injury Prevention), and the Tioga County Human Services, along with the Tioga County Partnership for Community Health staff.