Danger of drunken driving dramatized for students

May 04, 1994|By Katherine Richards | Katherine Richards,Sun Staff Writer

Four Meade Senior High students, along with firefighters, police and rescue personnel from several jurisdictions, played out a drama yesterday they hope will shock students into sobriety on prom night, May 13.

They staged a mock car accident in which firefighters cut off the top of one car and used the Jaws of Life to pry open a door of the other to reach the battered, bloody victims inside. A U.S. Park Police rescue helicopter whisked away the most seriously injured as about 300 Meade seniors watched.

"It scared me just being in there and acting it out," said Doug Jones, a "victim" still covered with simulated gore after the performance.

The event was staged as part of Prom Promise, a peer pressure program sponsored by Nationwide Insurance to encourage high school students to pledge not to use alcohol and other drugs on prom night. More than 67 high schools in the Baltimore area are expected to participate this year.

Yesterday's demonstration took place in two wrecked cars hauled to the site by Frank's Towing of Jessup. Two firefighters from the Fort Meade Fire Department portrayed fathers who had just dropped off their children at the school when a Chevrolet Citation containing four drunk teens slammed into the left side of their Chevrolet Sprint.

Senior Jacqueline Baer described her feelings while a makeup artist drizzled theatrical blood from a ketchup bottle over a grisly looking compound fracture of her upper thigh.

"This is terrible," she said. "I would never even attempt to go in a car with someone who was drunk. This definitely makes it more realistic for me."

After the demonstration, some in the audience also were impressed.

"It puts a thought in your head," said senior Monicia Ford. "Most teen-agers think they're invincible."

Others said the dramatization was not believeable.

"You really haven't seen anything but them taking people out of cars," complained senior Patricia Miller. "To me, you can't get the feel of it."

She said the rescue units arrived much more quickly than they would have reached a real accident, and the rescue crew didn't seem to have a sense of urgency.

Many in the audience laughed throughout the presentation. Boys cracked jokes and critiqued the actors' performances. Some of the students left before the demonstration was finished.

But Prom Promise and similar programs are having an impact, Maryland State Police spokesman Mike McKelvin said yesterday.

In the past, he said, more than half the nation's traffic fatalities were alcohol-related. But as alcohol awareness has increased, that figure has dropped to less than 30 percent.

The change is the direct result of programs such as Prom Promise, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and Students Against Drunk Driving, he said.

"We think it's working. We think it's effective," said Geoffrey Johnson, a Nationwide Insurance salesman from Odenton who has sponsored the Prom Promise program at Meade for four years.

This year, senior Jon Frederick coordinated the Meade program, along with a committee of about 12 students under the guidance of art teacher and senior class adviser John O'Neill.

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