Safety exhibit timed to promote safe prom

Published 5:00 am Tuesday, April 19, 2005

One local fraternity chapter is concerned that the youth who arethe nation’s future live to see it.

With so many teens killed and involved in automobile accidentsevery year, especially around prom season, the Mu Pi Lambda chapterof Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. decided that they needed to finda way to promote safe driving. The fraternity, in conjunction withthe Mississippi Department of Transportation, will be at BrookhavenHigh School on Wednesday to sponsor a safety exhibit.

The exhibit will start at 9 a.m. and feature Rover, a truck cabthat spins over and over to simulate a motor vehicle crash. It ispart of MDOT’s Drive Smart Mississippi program to increase seatbelt usage in Mississippi. The simulator will mirror what it wouldfeel like to be involved in an accident when not wearing orproperly utilizing a restraining device.

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“We’re using a scare tactic on one hand, but we’re alsopromoting the need of our youth growing up to be adults,” said RodHenderson, chapter director of education. “As we’re concerned aboutthe next generation, we’ve got to make sure they’re going to bealive. This is as close to an accident as we could find to showthem the dangers of drinking and driving and not wearing their seatbelts.”

Fraternity members said the demonstration will assist thechapter in making sure that students survive high school and areable to go to college. Rover will also aid in the efforts ofbridging the gap of driver safety and seat belt safety for studentsand will be an eye-opener for the Brookhaven High juniors andseniors as they celebrate this weekend’s prom.

“With it being prom season, we thought this would be the perfecttime to remind our youth to not drink and drive and to buckle up atall times,” Henderson said.

In addition to Rover, the fraternity has partnered with MothersAgainst Drunk Drivers to offer students an alternative to drivingdrunk or riding with someone who is. The chapter will be providingcontact numbers to students who may need rides as a follow-up toRover at Wednesday’s exhibit.

Kenneth Brown, the fraternity’s safety coordinator and anemployee with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, said his desire isthat this program become an annual event to be scheduled each yearduring prom season.

“It is our desire for this program to become a part of thefraternity’s national program ‘Go to High School, Go to College,'”Brown said. “Right now we’re just having it at Brookhaven HighSchool, but eventually we want to go to the county schools aswell.”

For more information about the event, call (601) 833-5167.