DARIEN — Many young drivers don’t experience the consequences of distracted driving until they’re the ones behind the wheel. But Darien High School students got to learn about the scary effects of drinking, driving and crashing within the safety of their school grounds at the Students Against Destructive Decisions’ Traffic Safety Fair at the high school.

Organized by SADD students through the Darien Depot, many local organizations came out April 27 to emphasize the importance of safe driving, including Darien police, State Police, the Noroton Heights Fire Department and Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

“It brings awareness to different types of things in the realm of traffic safety,” said Sgt. T.J. Moore, a Darien Depot adviser. “It’s freshmen to seniors, all taking initiatives.”

The event, which takes places every other year, is heavily directed by students who work different tables, advertise throughout the school and find volunteers to come to the event. The fair comes at the tail end of Distracted Driving Awareness Month and just before summer, when teens might become more careless on the roads.

“It’s the time of year where kids go to prom, start driving crazy,” said Officer Thomas Isaac, with the Darien police Traffic Division. “There’s a lot of issues with teen drivers.”

Simulators at the fair helped remind teens of the dangers of driving while distracted or under the influence. The students tried on “drunk” goggles and state police brought “The Convincer,” which simulates what it’s like to hit another car while going only 3 mph. A smashed car from a fatal accident in Stamford reminded students of the deadly consequences of bad driving. Students walking by signed a cardboard doughnut, pledging against drunk driving, part of this year’s theme, “Donut Steer in the Wrong Direction.”

Other student organizations showed up in support of this theme, including OneLove, which raises awareness about abusive relationships.

“It spreads awareness of programs to better the community,” said SADD co-president, Darien High School senior Helena Nichols. “We raise a lot of money to make it possible. I think it’s important to raise awareness. You may not know all the effects of the things you put into your body.”

Nichols’ co-president, senior Kallie Coughlin, said the event makes students consider things like the effects of drugs and alcohol and the importance of wearing a seatbelt.

“I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “It brings awareness to different things kids wouldn’t think about.”


mediact.com; @erin_kayata