Darien High School students attend SADD safety fair

Darien High School students are rapidly approaching the end of the school year. With the spring season comes an eye on summer vacation and, of course, the prom. Each year, Students Against Destructive Decisions holds a fair to help inform Darien High students about the consequences or poor choices, particularly while on the road.

Organizations from all over the state attended the fair. The Darien Police were present, as was the Noroton Fire Department. Silver Hill Hospital and Liberation Programs, both organizations who work to fight addiction and substance abuse, had booths as well. Mothers Against Drunk Driving had a table set up and interacted with students.

Student organizations were also part of the fair, including One Love, a group dedicated to raising awareness and fighting domestic violence and abusive relationships. Safe Rides, an organization that offers safe and confidential rides home to a student who is unable to drive, or a student who is uncomfortable getting in the car with a particular driver, was present as well. Of course, SADD had multiple tables as well, urging students to make smart choices on the road and as it relates to drugs and alcohol.

One of the more popular displays at the fair belonged to Fresh Green Light, a drivers ed program with locations all over Connecticut, New York, and Illinois, where it was founded. Fresh Green Light teaches, along with driving skills, about the specific dangers of distracted driving and other issues affecting today’s learning driver. With specific lessons on the danger of using the phone while driving, including texting, and other distractions that affect today’s teenage drivers, Fresh Green Light hopes to be more in touch with present day issues. Lessons are able to be booked online, and Fresh Green Light boasts that their students have 75% fewer accidents than other typical drivers education courses. The booth at the fair featured a straight line of duct tape on the ground, and a few sets of goggles.

The goggles were meant to simulate the affects of different levels of blood alcohol content. They ranged from a .08, which is the legal limit for a 21-year-old driver, to a significantly higher number near .2.  Students tried on the goggles and attempted to walk a straight line, and one after another stumbled or staggered in their attempt. The lesson was simple, even if you think .08, the legal limit, is safe, it still comes with serious risks and dangers.

The Connecticut State Police also had something of an interactive booth. The state police brought what looked like a section of a roller coaster, slightly angled, with a car seat at the top that slid down an incline into a padded wall. It was called, “The Convincer.” Students would climb into the seat, buckle in their seat belt, and slide into the padded wall. The police explained that the impact was actually fairly slight, as The Convincer simulates an impact at just four miles per hour. Having tried it personally, I can say that even at that extremely low speed, the impact is jarring and quite uncomfortable. A number of students climbed in feeling confident that this would not be an impact that bothered them at all, but climbed out looking, to say the least, convinced.

The SADD traffic fair has been held for several years running now. The State Department of Transportation, along with the law enforcement and emergency services entities that attend, offer a great service to the students at DHS by informing them, in an interactive but still very educational way, about the consequences of making a destructive decision.