Driving habits and safety are issues in our community, as they are across the nation, but one group of teens' passion for driver safety is bringing attention to the need for change. The Pepperell High Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) group has organized the Just Drive - Safe Driving Expo to focus on highway safety for our community’s youngest drivers. The eighth annual safe driving event is scheduled for this Sunday, March 20 in the K-Mart parking lot across from Home Depot on Hicks Drive. The driving demonstrations will be available 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. and there will be live music, free driving courses, a 26 foot inflatable slide and free t-shirts for anyone participating.
The event’s focus is improving teen driving but there are many booths and activities for the entire family. There will be two driving courses for participants. One will feature driving a golf cart while wearing Fatal Vision goggles to simulate driving while drunk or impaired. The purpose of driving the golf cart through a course lined with traffic cones is to show teens how their reaction and perception can be altered. On the second course participants will drive a car while attempting to text a provided message while also being distracted by law enforcement officers in the car. To drive on some of the event courses, a participant must have a valid driver’s license. Teens with a learner’s license must have a parent accompanying them to drive on the licensed courses.
Those without a license will have plenty to do and learn at the safe driving event. The safety event will also feature a simulated crash scene with Jaws of Life demonstrations, a rollover simulator, and a booth with information about defensive driving courses. There will also be a Blood Assurance blood drive during the event.
Every teen in the community is encouraged to attend the Safe Driving Expo. The event isn’t just restricted to dealing with bad decisions related to drugs or alcohol, the dangers of texting and talking on the phone while behind the wheel will be covered as well. "We host the Safe Driving Expo simply to save lives," stated Alana Ellenburg, faculty advisor of SADD at Pepperell High. "It is not just teens that do not recognize the dangers associated with driving because often even experienced drivers don't know how to handle driving situations." National statistics confirm the problem as four out of five accidents are attributed to distracted drivers.