Sights on safety

ATTICA – Car crashes and death were the topics of a safe driving program for high school students Thursday morning at Seneca East Local Schools.

Lt. Brent Meredith, commander of the Fremont Post of State Highway Patrol, showed graphic images of crash scenes he has been at and a video that included examples of young drivers who were involved in fatal car crashes and the impact the crashes had on families, friends and the community.

“With me being here, I want to get through to you that it is not just about proms and graduations, but the rest of your futures,” Meredith said. “Your principal and teachers look around and see the potential in you and want to continue to give you the opportunities to be whoever and do whatever you want to do.”

Meredith said he was not showing the images out of disrespect, but to convince students that every year it happens and happens in Seneca County.

“I am not here to preach to you, I am just here to give you a reminder,” Meredith said.

He said students can protect themselves by wearing seat belts, following the speed limit, not driving impaired, looking both ways when at stop signs, not looking for traffic until the vehicle is stopped and remembering green does not mean go.

“Even when the light turns green, give it a second and look both ways before you go,” he said. “Some drivers out there do not adhere to the caution light.”

Meredith said 2013 was one of the safest years on the road in Ohio’s history, with less than 1,000 drivers killed in car crashes.

So far this year, 51 crashes have resulted in 61 fatalities in Ohio, he said. That figure includes 17 accidents in which people younger than 24 were killed and 19 accidents caused by people younger than 24, Meredith said.

He said distracted driving is more dangerous than drunk driving.

Meredith explained three types of distracted driving: Visual, eyes off the road; manual, hands off the wheel; and cognitive, not concentrating on driving.

“Driving is your responsibility,” Meredith said. “Don’t be another statistic.”

He read a list of about 20 names of people who have died in car crashes.

“My goal here today is to impact you and convince you that it does happen here and near Seneca East,” Meredith said. “I read these names out of respect and remembrance to try to encourage you to make good decisions, mature decisions, and right decisions and to try to encourage others to do the same.”

Seneca East High School Principal Don Vogt said, “Standing on the sidelines, I tried to find something brilliant to say to leave with you, but I thought that if the videos, pictures and list of names that Lt. Meredith shared with you doesn’t do it, then nothing will.”

“Don’t forget you have a responsibility every time you get behind the wheel,” Vogt said. “You have to take it seriously. We want to see you today, on May 15 and on Aug. 25.”

After the program, Seneca East junior Jack Daniel said he is going to wear his seat belt and not speed.

Junior Jaclyn Willman said she will continue to wear her seat belt and make sure her friends do the same.

“It is scary,” Willman said. “The list of names definitely hit home for me.”