Junior project takes an epic approach to warn of distracted driving

Bellevue+Fire+Fighters+looked+to+aid+junior+Kyle+Malone+in+a+distracted+driving+simulation+on+Nov.+30+afternoon.%0D%0APhoto+by+Annaliesa+Schneider.

Bellevue Fire Fighters looked to aid junior Kyle Malone in a distracted driving simulation on Nov. 30 afternoon. Photo by Annaliesa Schneider.

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Bellevue Fire Fighters look to aid junior Kyle Malone in a distracted driving simulation on Nov. 30 afternoon.
Photo by Annaliesa Schneider.
It only takes one text, one drink, one distraction to send a car off the road into a ditch. While driving, life and death are on the line. If teens lose focus for one second the damage can be permanent.

Juniors Kyle Malone and Alex Staskiewicz have been working for the past month to set up a live simulation of a distracted driving accident to show the effects of distracted driving on teens.

Malone, who is also a photographer for The Thunder Beat, said he emailed Rose White from the AAA. She gave Malone 200 wristbands that said “Don’t text and drive,” 200 music cards that had information about texting and driving and brochures which he gave out at Bellevue West. White also gave him a DVD called “The Graphic UK PSA Texting and Driving Video.”

Malone was then directed to to the Bellevue Fire Department to speak with Assistant EMS Supervisor Dan Pojar. Malone said that he, Pojar and principal Kevin Rohlfs then worked together to plan a live simulation at Bellevue West.

Rohlfs, however, feels that Kyle was the mastermind behind this assembly.

“I was just on the tail end of all this but Kyle had it all planned out,” Rohlfs said.

The simulation took place in the student parking lot in front of the football gate during GPS on Friday. All student were invited to come.

Rohlfs said the performance was graphic, including victims being ejected from the vehicle. The car being used was actually in a DUI accident.

Malone said the performance is showed the aftermath of distracted driving. The simulation included Malone and sophomore Ari Dobson as those injured by the accident, and
sophomore Josh Rodriguez as as the bystander.

“Just telling you what distracted driving does doesn’t give you a picture. That’s why we’re using a live simulation,” Malone said.

Malone feels that though the demonstration was graphic, the topic of distracted driving is crucial for Bellevue West’s age group. He said he choose this topic primarily because it is the number one cause of teen deaths in America.

“I felt that I could prevent accidents if I showed what happens,” Malone said.

Pojar said that the Bellevue Fire Department was excited about Malone’s distracted driving project.

“We were more than happy to have the education for students and the community,”  Pojar said.

Staskiewicz views the topic on a more personal level. He worries that distracted driving could potentially hurt those close to him.

“I want to keep my friends and family safe. This will teach them ways to prevent this,” Staskiewicz said.

“Next time if a student were to text and think about texting and driving, they will hopefully think back this and decide not to text and drive,” Malone said.

Junior English teacher Nikki Salinas said that she hopes this will inspire others to do what Malone and Staskiewicz have done for their junior project.

“My hope is that every single kid can affect change, that they can change lives,” Salinas said.

Rohlfs sees the effects of distracted driving on Bellevue West.

“It bothers me seeing students and adults drive out of the parking lot every day with some sort of distraction,” Rohlfs said.

Rohlfs also hopes that this project will encourage students to be more careful when driving.

“I hope students end up thinking more about potential incidents,” Rohlfs said.

Pojar said he wants students to ask themselves if the importance of that text is really worth all the time going to the hospital before texting.

“We want them to realize the danger of taking their eyes off of the road,” Pojar said.

Rohlfs agreed about the importance of safety while driving.

“My advice is think twice before you get behind the wheel. You don’t get a second chance,” Rohlfs said. “If you hurt someone or even kill someone, you’ll have to live with it for the rest of your life.”

Story by Website Editor-in-Chief and West Wind Commentary Editor Hailey Stolze, with additional reporting by Reporter Sidney Marks and West Wind Sports Editor Nick Wilkinson.