As Lacey Township High School students strolled through the gym, they passed an empty chair from a vehicle with flowers placed on the seat and a sign that said the driver died after sending a text and not wearing a seatbelt.
The Lacey Township Emergency Services Club held a Safety Fair for their peers as part of “U Got Brains,” a teen driving safety project run by the state’s Brain Injury Association (BIA).
“We want to inform the community to drive safely. It can save their lives and others,” said junior Haley Kreis, a member of the Emergency Services Club. “It can take just a few seconds of not paying attention for someone to hurt themselves or others.”
The focus of the fair was safe driving and avoiding traumatic injuries, said Renee Gurgacz, Emergency Services Club.
The Forked River Fire Department responded to 120 accidents in 2010. Forty of those accidents involved 17 to 24-year olds.
“[At the Safety Fair], students are able to see what happens at an accident and the overall effect it has on the community,” Kreis said.
Emergency services including the Lanoka Harbor Fire Department, HealthSouth Rehabilitation Center, Highway Traffic Safety, Lacey Township Police Department, the Ocean County Health Department, Lanoka Harbor EMS, and Students Against Drunk Driving set up camp at the fair.
Many of the emergency services had displays showcasing what could happen if they do not wear their seatbelts.
The Lanoka Harbor Fire Department showed the students extrication tools that they use after car accidents while HealthSouth explained what they do when a patient has a brain injury.
Highway Traffic Safety showed a video called “Death do us part,” a graphic picture of an accident.
“Drivers need to be attentive and pay attention to their skills and needs and make sure everyone in the vehicle is safe,” said Charles Feggans, Senior Highway Safety Specialist.
Officer George Resetar explained that the primary cause of accidents is that the driver is pre-occupied.
One student asked, “How do you know if the driver was on their phone?”
Resetar explained that the police could subpoena the driver’s phone records.
Resetar also showcased graphic images of vehicles after accidents.
Students were amazed when they learned that they were not fatal.
After winning $1,000 from the NJ BIA for the project, the Emergency Services Club has done an online discussion board on traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and texting while driving, concussion safety to the coaches, and a TBI bulletin board trivia contest. Currently the club is working on writing a children's book on helmet safety.
On May 25, the Emergency Services Club will bring a scrapbook of the culmination of their “U Got Brains” project as well as a video and display boards to Trenton for an award ceremony.
The club will be competing with 19 other schools to win a driving simulator.
“We compete with other schools to see who is the most creative with their money,” Gurgacz said.