Students learn about drinking and driving

Gary Pflughaupt, of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension, demonstrates the importance of having your seatbelt when inside a vehicle to a group of Calhoun High School Seniors last Friday. (Jared Van Epps/Wave photo)

Calhoun High School Seniors got a chance to learn about the dangers of drinking and driving and driving without a seatbelt from the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Watch UR BAC Program.

The program is promoted by the Texas Department of Transportation to spread alcohol and drug awareness, the dangers of impairment, and friends watching out for friends, according to a Texas A&M AgriLife Extension pamphlet.

“The Rollover Convincer” was shown first to the seniors. Gary Pflughaupt, the program assistant from TAMU, demonstrated what happens to people with and without seatbelts in rollover accidents.

Pflughaupt said seatbelts are attached to two test dummies placed in the vehicle. The truck cab is turned over numerous times, allowing the seniors to witness the dummies overturning and see the dummies stay in place with seatbelts on.

Pflughaupt later demonstrated what happens if the dummies didn’t have their seatbelts on.

“Normally, on the first half of the turn, not even a full turn, the occupant is already being ejected…in reality, if it was a real person, they would not survive a vehicle rolling over them.”

Pflughaupt spoke of the importance of wearing seatbelts. He said it is an important reminder when the seniors watch television or listen to the radio and become aware of a crash and how “their high school and community” are affected if someone was killed.

“We just come out here and emphasize the importance of buckling up, and with the visual aid, it shows how it is important to buckle up,” Pflughaupt said.

According to the pamphlet that Pflughaupt handed out, one in four vehicles are pickup trucks, and a pickup is twice as likely to roll over than a car, and seatbelt usage rates in pickups are lower than cars.

“When a car does overturn, when someone is involved in a wreck, they cannot brace themselves to hold themselves into position,” Pflughaupt said. “That is why it’s so important to buckle up the children, and everybody else, including the adults, so when a wreck happens, we’re prepared.”

After the Rollover Convincer, the seniors went inside the gym of the athletic building to see the other activities to spread the message about the dangers of alcohol and drug use while driving.

Bobbi Brooks, the program director of WATCH UR BAC, talked about the seniors’ participation in the different activities available.

“Texas leads the nation in DWI deaths and arrests, so it’s important that we get this message out to young people about these dangers,” Brooks said.

The Watch UR BACK program had a lot of different activities available: a drunk driving prevention simulator, drunk goggles, marijuana goggles, VR goggles to show what happens when one is drives while distracted, and the text and drive simulator.

The Watch UR BAC Program partnered with members of the following agencies: Port Lavaca Fire Department, Texas Department of Public Safety, Calhoun ISD Police, and Calhoun County Sheriff’s Office.

Brooks spoke on the importance of local law enforcement attendance at the event, and she said they want the students to know that law enforcement is getting the same education so that it can be recognized by the community.

Senior Briely Maldonado talked about what she took away from the event, and she said she learned the importance of wearing her seatbelt, not drinking and driving, not getting into a car when someone is drinking, and that her safety is more important than anything else.