Ahead of Mancos High School’s prom weekend, school officials have scheduled a mock crash designed to give teenagers some tools to avoid distracted driving situations.
The demonstration will take place April 14 at 9 a.m. on Beech Street, between the middle school and the performing arts center on the campus.
Authorities will be on scene participating in the event, including ambulances and a helicopter. The Mancos Fire Department is donating two crashed cars for use in the demonstration, Principal Adam Priestley said. The school also is collaborating with Mancos Police, the Colorado State Patrol and Flight For Life.
Priestley said the goal is to make it as realistic as possible so that students will feel the impact as if it were a real crash.
“We’re making it very touching and trying to make it affect students,” he said. “We want kids to be safe before prom.”
Colorado State Patrol Sgt. James Saunders is coordinating the demonstration. He said law enforcement agencies often put on mock crashes during high school prom season. It’s unfortunately the time of year for increased crashes involving teen drivers, he said.
“We want students to sit back and understand what happens if they make unsafe choices,” Saunders said. “When we do mock crashes we like to go as big and as realistic as possible.”
Mancos High School’s prom takes place April 16, just two days after the demonstration.
Beech Street will be closed off as the mock crash is staged, involving two cars. Eight students will sustain injuries from the crash, and one victim will be pronounced dead at the crash site.
After the crash demonstration, students will move to the gym, where state troopers will notify family members of the deceased mock crash victim. From there, the production will move into a mock funeral for the victim, Priestley said. After the dramatization portion, state troopers will give a presentation on good driving.
After that presentation, middle- and high-school students will be bussed to Dolores for a “Think Fast” assembly. The Think Fast program involves an interactive learning, game show-style approach to safe driving awareness, Priestley said. Mancos students will be broken in to groups with students from Dolores and Dove Creek as part of that, he said.
Mancos High School doesn’t offer driver’s education for students, Priestley said. So when the opportunity came to stage a mock crash, school staff members thought it was a good idea, he said.
“We feel we should do our part to make sure (students) know what safe driving is,” Priestley said.
Prom season is the one time during the year when students are more at risk for something bad to happen while driving, he said. So he wants to make sure students are able to know when to tell their friends to put the phone down and focus on driving safely.
“Hopefully this keeps students safe,” Priestley said.
Saunders said Mancos schools have been great advocates for safety, inviting state troopers in for presentations on distracted driving.
Saunders said he hopes that students will voluntarily work to be safer drivers after seeing the mock crash. The demonstrations are realistic and they stick with students, he said.
“With the feedback we get, it’s well worth the time and energy,” Saunders said. “They’re definitely effective. ... We’d rather have 100 mock crashes and devote time and resources to those than have one crash.”