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Villa Maria Students Learn a Difficult Lesson About Distracted Driving

Emergency responders from Malvern Fire and Rescue and Jefferson Stat remove “victims” from the mock crash at Villa Maria Academy High School April 9.
Emergency responders from Malvern Fire and Rescue and Jefferson Stat remove “victims” from the mock crash at Villa Maria Academy High School April 9.

Villa Maria Academy High School students experienced an emotional day April 9 when they saw the consequences of distracted and drunk driving first hand. The school, in conjunction with State Farm Insurance, Malvern Preparatory School, Main Line Health and Paoli Hospital, set an unforgettable, bone-chilling scene of a mock crash so students attending prom Friday would think twice before driving drunk or distractedly.

“It’s to help make students aware of the dangers of distracted driving,” Villa Maria Director of Activities Kathy McCartney said. “This is such a meaningful event. If it helps one kid on prom night think twice about distracted or drunk driving, then the whole afternoon was worth it.”

This is the first year Villa Maria hosted a mock crash event. Shortly after school began, students were called out of classes to the scene of an “accident” caused by a distracted, and possibly drunk, driver. From there, the images students witnessed are something that they won’t likely forget.

Students watched as four Villa Maria and four Malvern Prep students, who volunteered to play victims, were forcibly removed from the mangled car by Malvern Fire and Rescue emergency responders. Media Theater for the Performing Arts made the students up using fake blood and stage makeup to create the effect that they were in the accident. Two of them even pretended to be dead.

In addition to Malvern Fire and Rescue, Malvern and Willistown police, Jefferson Stat emergency services, and the Chester County Coroner’s Office all participated in the mock crash as well. They arrived on scene within minutes of crash occurring. Shortly after, an emergency hospital helicopter landed on the field hockey field to transport victims.

“It’s quite a theatrical production,” Ms. McCartney said. “However, it’s a great tool to address not only drunk driving, but other issues teen drivers encounter, like texting, not wearing seat belts, and talking on the phone.”

Once the victims of the crash were taken away to the hospital or coroner’s office, students participated in Bryn Mawr’s “Cruisin’ not Boozin’” program where they discussed with real survivors of distracted or drunk driving accidents how one poor decision impacts the rest of their lives.

Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death among teens in the United States.  One in four crash fatalities involves a 16 to 24 year old driver. Decisions like not wearing seat belts, drinking and driving, speeding, using a cell phone, and carrying other teen passengers all greatly increase a young driver’s crash risk. Villa Maria hopes by showing students the consequences of these decisions, they will make more informed choices.

“We want to start a discussion with our students of the serious implications one decision can have,” Ms. McCartney said. “We hope this will start the conversation and that they’ll take it seriously.”

About Villa Maria Academy

Villa Maria Academy High School (Malvern, Pa.) is a private Catholic high school, preparing girls for college and beyond in the tradition of the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. At Villa Maria, students are taught to be critical thinkers and confident leaders. These young ladies pursue a course of study that will continually reinforce analytical problem-solving skills, high-level thinking, and increasingly independent work. Villa Maria empowers young women to lead lives of spiritual growth, intellectual inquiry and Christian service. For more information, visit www.vmahs.org.

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