The week before students at Royal Palm Beach High School celebrate their senior prom, the Health Care District of Palm Beach County’s trauma agency and community partners staged a dramatic lesson on teen driving safety.
About 500 seniors at Royal Palm Beach High School learned about the potentially deadly consequences of drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding at a crash reenactment on the high school’s football field last week. Members of the school’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club participated in the staged two-car collision, and the Health Care District’s Trauma Hawk helicopter landed on the field to simulate transport of a mock patient. This was the third of four “Shattered Dreams” presentations this year.
“The Health Care District is proud to coordinate with our community partners to educate high school students about the risks they face before they climb behind the wheel,” said Darcy J. Davis, CEO of the Health Care District. “While April is Distracted Driving Awareness Month, we make trauma prevention a year-round priority.”
Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 15-to-20-year-olds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. In 2018, 2,673 teen drivers were involved in a crash in Palm Beach County with more than seven crashes a day by teenagers. The “Shattered Dreams” school presentations illustrate how poor decision-making, along with the use of smart phones while driving, can end in injury, death, criminal records and civil charges.
These reenactments, facilitated by David Summers, trauma nurse outreach coordinator with the Health Care District’s Trauma Agency, remind students of the tragic consequences of bad decisions. “Knowledge is power,” Summers said. “Our goal is to educate our youth on making smart choices as it relates to traffic safety and beyond.”
“I hope that this makes an impact and allows students to make better choices and think about this when they’re put into similar situations,” said Renee Houck, assistant principal at Royal Palm Beach High School. “I hope it makes them realize what can happen and it makes a difference, even if it’s just for one student.”
Naheemah Brutus, a senior at the school, acted the part of one of the injured students. “This was the most terrifying experience, that this could actually happen,” Brutus said. “I can’t imagine if I lost a friend in a crash like this. We should take this as a lesson to drive safely and always be aware.”
Event partners that donated their time, expertise and/or equipment to facilitate the event included: the School District of Palm Beach County, Royal Palm Beach High School’s administration and school police, Royal Palm Beach High School’s Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) club, St. Mary’s Trauma Center, the Health Care District’s Trauma Agency and Trauma Hawk Aeromedical Program, Palm Beach County Fire-Rescue, the Palm Beach County Sheriff’s Office, Sisters Towing, LKQ Salvage and Palms West Funeral Home.