Shattered Dreams: The Danger Of Distracted Driving
Special To Welcome Home
In late March, Johnson High School hosted the renowned driver safety program, “Shattered Dreams” for 1,600 junior and senior students. Shattered Dreams dramatically showed the students how irresponsible choices can end all dreams as they witnessed a staged car accident featuring emergency personnel responding as they would to an actual crash.
The two-day event depicted a collision where both drinking and texting played a predominant role, leaving one student dead, several injured, and one arrested. The student portraying a drunk driver was arrested and taken in a police car to be filmed as he was “booked” on a charge of vehicular manslaughter at the Magistrate’s office downtown. Students acting as injured victims were evacuated by EMS to University Hospital, where they spent the day touring the facility and getting a first-hand look at trauma patient care and resulting injuries and rehabilitation.
More than 50 student leaders were involved either in the accident or as members of the living dead, who relinquish their phones, access to social media and voice for the remainder of the day to visually represent the absence left by a victim of a traffic fatality. The morning of Thursday, March 29, juniors and seniors attended a mock funeral commemorating the life of student Grace Valderama, who was selected as the fatality.
Shattered Dreams promoted responsible decision-making among high school students regarding underage drinking and impaired driving – just in time for Johnson’s prom April 14 and San Antonio’s biggest party, Fiesta.
This is the third time Johnson High School, located at 23203 Bulverde Road, put on Shattered Dreams, as the administration is committed to providing each Johnson student the opportunity to witness the event as a junior or senior before they graduate.
The first Shattered Dreams program was held at McCollum High School in 1998. The event involves dozens of community members including EMS, SAFD, SAPD, University Health Systems, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, TXDOT, MADD, Porter Loring Funeral Home, and at Johnson High School, the PTSA.
“We hope Shattered Dreams encouraged teens and adults to consider the life-changing consequences of the decisions they make when they get behind the wheel of a car,” said Kim Barnes, Johnson High School PTSA president.
“My older son and several of his friends participated in this program two years ago,” said Amy Morgan, Johnson’s first vice president of programs. “We have seen how the experience has molded their behavior as they’ve moved on to college. They don’t get behind the wheel impaired; many serve as designated drivers at their respective schools, and others Uber. I made a commitment in 2016 to help execute this valuable program for my younger son and his classmates, who are now finishing their senior year.”
According to the CDC (2015), six teenagers every day are involved in fatal crashes; three times the rate for those over the age of 20. Over 250,000 are admitted to the hospital for life-altering injuries resulting in costs of over 20 billion dollars. Of all states, Texas ranks highest in teenage traffic fatalities and Bexar County has the highest rate in the state.
Not only that, Bexar County drivers are the most distracted in Texas. Since 2013 to mid 2016, 220 people were killed as part of more than 85,000 distracted driver crashes in Bexar County, according to TxDOT. That’s a crash where the driver is on the phone, distracted by something in the car or just not paying attention.
“We want to change the culture to give people a voice and the courage to not allow others to endanger their safety,” said Melinda Cox, longtime parent/PTSA sponsor of the Johnson High School Smart Driving Club. “We strongly encourage the community not to drink or drive distracted – to make better choices for themselves.”
“It was a great opportunity to show my classmates the danger of driving distracted or intoxicated,” stated Jack Morgan, Johnson High School president of the Smart Driving Club. “Having a real-world example is much more impactful than just being told about instances.”
“The lives of the Johnson juniors and seniors, as well as the student-leaders who immersed themselves in Shattered Dreams as they served as crash victims, living dead, pallbearers, video or photographers, make up artists, sound or make-up crew will forever be changed,” added Barnes. “They will take what they learned and exponentially impact the world. I hope many will be motivated to make more responsible choices both on and off the road.”
A video of the event was shown to the Johnson High School community April 17. It can be accessed on social media and will be available as permanent record to be used in future training. Contact 210-885-3518 for more information, or visit www.neisd.net/johnson.