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Southwest Community High School students learn about defensive driving with Alive at 25

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Erin Quinn, ND highway patrol officer, teaches Southwest Community High School students about defensive driving using the program Alive at 25. (Kayla Henson / The Dickinson Press)

Southwest Community High School received a grant from the ND Safety Council for Alive at 25, a defensive driving course.

Erin Quinn, a patrol officer with the North Dakota Highway Patrol, presented the 4.5 hour program to students at the school, Wednesday. Alive at 25 targets drivers under the age of 25 and focuses on behavior, judgment, decision making and consequences.

The program uses real-life events and testimonies.

Students watched a video of death investigators talking about her experiences working with fatal collisions.

"During a crash, there's often a lot of damage done to the body," one of the investigators said. "That includes body parts being ripped apart. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances of the crash, maybe a rollover, maybe an arm hanging out the window ... maybe fingers are amputated, legs. It's our office's job to make sure we have all of those parts. If a vehicle explodes on impact and things are sent all over the place, that often leads to us walking around the scene trying to count fingers and toes."

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A first responder in the same video describes one of the hardest parts of his job.

"One of the hardest things I've had to do is call the fire department over and have them conduct a wash down and to see the responses and the actions of the family and friends that are present to see us washing away the blood of their child or their friend, going in the side of the road, going down into the sewer so that way we can open back the road," he said.

Students are presented with real-life scenarios to dissect. They watched videos of collision scenarios and were then asked if the collision was preventable and how. They heard about actual aggressive driving events, and Quinn talked to students about avoiding aggressive driving and how to deal with other aggressive drivers.

The program targets two of North Dakota's biggest collision-related problems — alcohol use and lack of seat belt use.

In North Dakota, 46-50% of fatal crashes involve alcohol. Quinn went over a list of driving behaviors that could indicate someone is driving under the influence, including weaving, swerving, driving slowly or on the wrong side of the road, driving with headlights off at night, turning abruptly and braking erratically.

In North Dakota, 54% of fatal crashes in the state involve not wearing a seat belt, for all age groups.

"There's always going to be a chance that crash is not going to be survivable, especially when you're dealing with really high speeds, but if everybody would just wear a seat belt, it would reduce the amount of ejections," Quinn said. "The safest place is a crash to be is in the vehicle, because they're designed to keep you safe. If you're getting ejected through the windshield ... you're not going to be as safe. You have the potential for severe injury if the vehicle rolls on top of you."

Students also learned about state laws on insurance, safety belts, registration, use of cell phones, zero tolerance and the move over law. For completing the course, students can qualify for an insurance discount.

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Kayla Henson is a former Dickinson Press reporter.
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