North Johnston High School drove home a powerful message to its students Tuesday, promoting safe driving by re-enacting all-too-common tragic accidents among teens.
Students received a presentation from VIP for a VIP, or Vehicle Injury Prevention for a Very Important Person. The program consists of testimony from area emergency services, video and PowerPoint presentations, and a re-enactment of a fatal teen accident at the school.
“Every decision you make has a consequence but sometimes it can cause you your life,” said Bre Woodruff a senior at North Johnston. “It really made you think about the risks that you have at stake, not just now but in every decision.”
Students also heard emotional testimony from community member and father Ricky Richardson, who lost his son, Reece, a former North Johnston student, in an accident in January 2007.
More than 40 percent of teen deaths occur in motor vehicle accidents, according to statistics provided by VIP for a VIP. Most of the accidents are preventable, and are a result of a poor driving decision.
“North Carolina is one of the leading states for teen fatalities, teen deaths, and automobile accidents,” said Daryl Cash, a VIP for a VIP Eastern Team Member. “It’s our goal to get out, and reach out, and try to work with the teens to help lower the numbers to zero if at all possible.”
Cash added that 22 teens have died in auto accidents since February of this year.
The Micro Fire Department, Kenly Volunteer Fire Department, Johnston County EMS, the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, NC Highway Patrol, and the NC Wildlife Commission presented information and a moving program to the teen drivers and their families in an effort to prevent future deaths.
“Please be careful, because that vehicle is just like a weapon,” said Chief Paul Whitehurst from the Kenly Volunteer Fire Department. “Don’t text and drive. Don’t drink and drive. Don’t speed. Be safe. Always be aware, because it only takes a couple of seconds to be involved in an accident.”
Students and parents were also encouraged to complete the VIP Contract for Life.
“The Life Contract is commitment of making the right choices and consequences in life,” said Cash. “Doing the right thing, picking up the phone, calling someone, and not doing some of the things that you shouldn’t do as a teenager.”
The contract ask students to adhere to safe driving, a zero tolerance for drugs and alcohol, and calling parents before driving impaired. Parents were also asked to sign the contract.
“It’s hard enough to have teenagers today to step up and say ‘Hey I’ve done something wrong, I didn’t mean to but now I need to get home safely,’” said Cash. “Our message to parents would be to go pick the teenager up, and let them have that one free. I hate to say free but let them have that one free and get them home safely. That’s the whole goal.”
The program was dedicated to the students that have lost their lives in motor vehicle accidents while attending North Johnston High School.