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Seat belt safety also encouraged

Bob the Crash Test Dummy took great pains Monday to teachBrookhaven High School students about the dangers of drinking anddriving. Literally.

Members of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity and employees of theMississippi Department of Transportation provided BHS with “Rover,”a truck body on a machine that simulates an accident in which thevehicle rolls over with passengers inside. As the truck rolls,dummies – like Bob – inside flop around and are ejected through thewindows, just like in some rollover accidents.

“We have to make sure you graduate from high school and college.And in order to do that, you have to be alive,” said Alpha PhiAlpha Alumni Chapter President Dexter Holloway. “Accidents happen,and we need to make sure you’re prepared.”

The speakers focused on two particular safety precautions:wearing a seat belt and not drinking and driving.

MDOT representative Lisa Valadie told the group thatthree-quarters of the 877 people killed in Mississippi last yearwere unrestrained drivers.

“Do you know what happens to people inside a vehicle when itrolls?” she asked. “They look like clothes in a dryer.”

Valadie asked the students to name excuses some people give fornot wearing their seat belt, and they came up with things like thefact that it could wrinkle clothes or that it’s uncomfortable.

“Some people also say, ‘What if I have a wreck and my carcatches on fire, then I couldn’t get out,'” she said.

But she and MDOT worker Christy Milbourne told the students thatone-half of 1 percent of wrecks end in fire and water.

“And fatalities are just the tip of the iceberg,” Valadie said.”There are thousands of injuries every year where people don’t die.Some of them are things like closed-head injuries, where people arevegetables for the rest of their lives.”

The presenters reminded the students that a traffic fatality orother crippling accident will affect not only the life of theperson in the accident, but also those around them.

“It affects the whole community and definitely affects theirfamily,” Milbourne said. “But eventually your friends are going togo on with their lives.”

Holloway also told the group that not only do they need to weara seat belt in their own vehicle, they need to encourage everyonewho gets in their vehicle to do the same.

“Just because you buckle up it’s not enough,” he said. “You haveto make it personal. You have to make sure your family and friendsdo, too.”

With prom season coming up, being knowledgeable about thedangers of drinking and driving is imperative, the presenterssaid.

“You don’t want this to be the most expensive prom dress ortuxedo ever,” said Milbourne while holding up a body bag.