With summer vacation right around the corner, there will be more young drivers on the roads. That’s why they’re the focus of this month’s Driving it Home. YNN and the State Police met up with Ballston Spa High School students while they got a lesson in safe driving. Our Megan Cruz went along for the ride.
BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. -- “You have to run around the car once, get back in your same seat, and put your seat belt back on," said Brett Lloyd. He's a sophomore at Ballston Spa High School who's playing a game of Seat Belt Wars. It teaches kids a life-saving lesson: that it only takes seconds to put on a seat belt.
Lloyd says he'll always buckle up, because he's already learned the consequences of not.
“It was last year," he said. "My friend was driving and I was sitting in the back seat. My head went through the side window. That’s where I got this from. Had my jaw fractured for eight weeks, couldn't eat."
Lloyd says he'd rather his friends learn through games likes these, instead of from mistakes that the State Police says have cost many young drivers their lives. State Trooper Dale Palmer says the number one fatality for people ages 15 to 20 is a car crash.
"You're not going to be the best driver in the world right off the bat," said Trooper Palmer. "The more you drive, the more experience you get, the better your driving style is going be."
So for practice, Trooper Palmer's brought a special video game for the students here at Ballston Spa High School.
"It was really, really hard," said Freshman Victoria Batista. "They ask you to text and call people and when you're focusing on that, you can't focus on the road. I hit deer and cars and people."
“They’re starting to see how distracting that can be," said Trooper Palmer. "They don't realize that once you take your eyes off the road for just that brief second, anything could be in front of you."
And what makes driving even more difficult? Driving under the influence. Students got to see firsthand what it's like, thanks to Cornell Cooperative Extension.
"Your depth perceptions definitely off," said Senior Jeremy Hoose. "You stop way before or after stop signs, you're not really paying attention to everything around you. You're more focused on the sensation. I thought I was going two be a decent driver in those glasses, but not at all."
But even with all the games and interactive activities, kids say what really gets the safe driving message to stick are the real life tragedies.
“An alcohol-impaired driver who didn’t have his lights on didn’t stop at the stop sign and careened into their car," said Linda Campion, as she remembers the day her 20-year-old daughter Kathy died in a car accident in 1987.
While that accident had been out of Kathy’s control, Trooper Palmer reminds kids at the high school that there is a lot they do have control of when behind that wheel.
“It’s your life - make the right choice," he said. "It’s not a game anymore.”