Courtesy / Melinda Cox
Safety behind the wheel is considered a priority on the Johnson High School campus in North East Independent School District, especially during homecoming.
To promote safe driving practices and remind students of the dangers of drunk and distracted driving, the school's Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) Smart Driving Club will host law enforcement, safety groups, and organizations on campus for its sixth annual Safe Driving event during homecoming week.
The event will take place on Friday, Sept. 14, during lunch and bring information and interactive opportunities to both students and staff. Founded in 2012 through parent sponsorship supported by the campus and the school's PTSA, the Smart Driving Club aims to further its mission to inspire drivers and passengers to always make safe choices behind the wheel.
Mindy Waters, first vice president of programs and mother of a Johnson sophomore, said the event is a perfect example of how a public school, its PTSA, and the surrounding community can all work together to support and advocate for children's safety.
“Through our Smart Driving Club, students, parents, and the community work together to promote safe driving and remind all to keep their eyes on the road," Waters said. "Events like this ... make ... a difference in our community and ... our roads safer."
Many community members and organizations support the annual event by bringing to the campus various activities and information that help students understand the risks and consequences of driving distracted or impaired.
The events are as follows:
- The Texas Department of Transportation will set up obstacle courses in the high school's courtyard area and ask students to drive pedal karts through them while texting and driving. The department also will bring its crash test dummy to remind students to always wear seat belts and never drive distracted.
- The San Antonio Police Department's SAFFE officers will provide "drunk goggles" so students can try to walk a straight line or drive a pedal kart through obstacle courses while “under the influence." Students will be reminded throughout that the cones they hit while attempting these tasks represent pedestrians or cars.
- Students will be able to mimic real driving situations through a driving simulator provided by University Health System. The simulator allows students to test driving skills while speeding, driving distracted, and driving under the influence.
- Representatives from the Bexar Bulverde Volunteer Fire Department and Acadian Ambulance will talk about their role in car crashes and warn students of the dangers of unsafe behavior behind the wheel.
- Other vendors scheduled to attend include Teens in the Drivers Seat, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Y100 Radio, and NEISD Drivers Education.
- Members of the Smart Driving Club will have a table in the cafeteria and encourage students to sign their Don’t Drive Distracted Pledge banner.
Following the event, the Smart Driving Club will spend the school year working on campus and in the community to educate drivers and passengers and remind motorists that it is unlawful to be on their phones while driving in San Antonio.
Johnson seniors Ella Easley and Justin Gilbert, the 2018-2019 Smart Driving Club presidents, understand the importance of the message their club hopes to share and how relevant it is during homecoming and beyond.
“Homecoming is around the corner, and this event is a great opportunity to remind students that being safe pays off even while you're having fun,” Easley said. "The activities provided are an interactive way to demonstrate the dangers of distracted driving to students, many [of] whom are of driving age."