JHS students educated on the use of seat beltsThe Wednesday morning trip to class for Jamestown High School students had an unexpected obstacle. Parked on the sidewalk outside the school’s front door was a black GMC Yukon that had been totaled in a crash. The roof of the vehicle was crushed and showed signs of being cut to extricate the victims of the crash. The exterior bore biohazard stickers alerting anyone who worked around the vehicle of the blood stains.
By: Keith Norman, The Jamestown Sun
The Wednesday morning trip to class for Jamestown High School students had an unexpected obstacle.
Parked on the sidewalk outside the school’s front door was a black GMC Yukon that had been totaled in a crash. The roof of the vehicle was crushed and showed signs of being cut to extricate the victims of the crash. The exterior bore biohazard stickers alerting anyone who worked around the vehicle of the blood stains.
Around the vehicle were signs giving statistics about seat belt usage and traffic accident fatalities.
“It’s the shock factor,” said Nicole Turchin, account representative for the marketing agency for the North Dakota Department of Transportation. “They come to school not expecting to see this. It catches them off guard and impresses on them the importance of wearing seat belts.”
That message was echoed by Sgt. Josh Rude of the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
“The person who drove this vehicle left home, work or school and didn’t think they would have an accident,” he said. “The No. 1 killer of people between the ages of 14 and 25 is traffic crashes. That age group is less likely to comply with seat belts laws also.”
Students entering the school reacted to the display.
“I was kind of freaked,” said Katie Ramlo, senior at JHS. “Most of the time I use seat belts but this is a reminder.”
Patrick Fowler, also a senior, said he always wears his seat belt.
“I think the message gets through to some,” he said. “This shows how severe an accident can be.”
Rude said seat belt usage keeps the occupant in the vehicle during a crash.
“The majority of fatal crashes are single-vehicle accidents,” he said. “And in 40 percent of fatalities the person is either partially or fully ejected from the vehicle.”
Turchin said the Highway Patrol is sponsoring similar programs across North Dakota. They intended to use vehicles wrecked in accidents involving fatalities although the history of the vehicle used at JHS was unknown.
“Using vehicles that were involved in fatal accidents adds impact,” she said. “A lot of the students stare at it. They don’t know how to respond.”
The display corresponds with the last week of school and is one week before the National ‘Click it or Ticket’ campaign.
During the week, overtime for police officers, sheriff’s deputies and Highway Patrol troopers is covered by grants from the federal government. This puts more officers on the streets and roads for longer periods of time with the dedicated purpose of ticketing people who are not using seat belts.
Rude said increasing youth seat belt use starts with the parents.
“New drivers have to drive with the parents,” he said. “The parents need to set an example by using seat belts and stress the importance of seat belts.”
For the students, it was another reminder to wear a seat belt.
“I do or an alarm goes off although I know a lot who don’t wear it for short trips,” said Ashley Kronenbusch, senior at JHS. “This will help for the people who do pay attention to these things.”
Sun reporter Keith Norman can be reached at 701-952-8452 or by email at email@example.com