/script>
By Chris Gregory, Managing Editor

Students at Trousdale County High School recently got a firsthand opportunity to see the dangers of driving while distracted by cell phones.

Trousdale was the first high school in Tennessee to host the Save a Life Tour, described as the nation’s most advanced and high-impact Safe Driving Awareness Program.

“I was asked earlier in the year if our school would host,” said TCHS Principal Teresa Dickerson. “It targeted kids on texting and driving, or even just talking on their phone.”

Photo courtesy of Trousdale County Schools
TCHS student Jess Holder tries out one of the simulators during the ‘Save a Life Tour.’

The program utilizes crash videos, victim impact statements and simulators that give students an idea of the effects of distracted driving.

According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, 58 people in Tennessee died from distracted driving crashes and 170 people died from alcohol-impaired crashes in 2018.

WKRN-2 out of Nashville was on hand to see the program in action and the sobering effects on students.

“We know that teens are using phones and if we can educate them early on the dangers, hopefully, we can have an impact,” said Vic Donoho, Director of the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

“You could hear a pin drop in there from the videos,” Dickerson said. “More accidents are just running off the road because of the texting.

“Your intention when you get in that car is not to hit somebody, but everytime you get behind the wheel there’s that opportunity.”

“What that shows them is when you don’t have complete control over your vehicle, it’s very easy to lose all control of your vehicle,” said Michael Campbell of Save a Life Tour.

Dickerson said the program challenged students to put their phones away while driving for seven days, saying that it takes that long to begin to break the habit.

“They said it’s almost like an addiction to some people; they way they feel they have to look down if a message comes,” she said. “I’m guilty too. I have hands free, but I’m trying to put it down.”

Dickerson said she would get feedback from faculty, staff and students to determine if Trousdale County will use the program in the next school year. Previously, Trousdale has used the Think Fast program.

“It was worthwhile,” Dickerson said. “It made us all think.”

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff Reports