CHAMPION - As a man who spends a lot of his time driving the highways and byways, Shawn Rounavaara made one request of the students at the "Act Out Loud" rally Thursday at Trumbull Career and Technical Center:
"Shut your phones off when you're driving. That's the safest thing you can do when you're driving," the truck driver from Warren said.
Rounavaara said the view from the cab of a semi truck offers a different perspective.
A medical helicopter prepares to land at a mock crash scene in the parking lot of Trumbull Career and Technical Center. The simulation was set up to raise awareness to the dangers of distracted driving. Students Making A Safer Highway was among the sponsors.
Tribune Chronicle / Bob Coupland
"Truck drivers can see right into your cars. I see people of all ages all the time texting while driving, talking on their phones, cutting other people off or following them too close when they're driving and on their cell phones. It's just not worth it. I've seen too many crashes and too many people get hurt," he said.
Rounavaara was one of the speakers at the rally against distracted driving. The event, hosted by TCTC and its Business Professionals of America chapter officer team, was held in a TCTC parking lot.
TCTC's Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) organization and the center's Public Safety Program assisted.
Students participated in activity stations related to safety while driving, including a driving simulator provided by the Department of Public Safety and a tricycle driving obstacle course. NASCAR Truck Racer Jimmy Weller also spoke.
Students Making Safer Highway (SMASH) school representative Chandler Hodges said the event was designed to give students an understanding of how operating a vehicle while impaired or distracted impacts their ability to drive.
"This is the first time we've had something like this rally. It really is a way to raise awareness about the importance of safe driving," Hodges said. ''They could see this firsthand and what could happen to them if they were to get in an accident.''
Justin Habraken, a senior, said classmate Ryan Francis, a senior, portrayed the driver of one of the vehicles who was checked by paramedics before being asked by Ohio State Highway Patrol officers to walk a line to see if he had been drinking.
Kris Doran, multimedia instructor at TCTC, said the distractive driving could be due to alcohol, texting, talking on a cell phone or eating while driving.
''This was to warn of the dangers of distractive driving of any kind. We were able to get different groups from the school together to get the message across and create awareness,'' Doran said.
Students in the public safety program took part in the crash rescue while multimedia students recorded it.
Champion Fire Department was on hand to assist with mock crashes. The department provided an ambulance and rescue vehicle to handle casualties.
Emmerine's Towing also took part in the crash, which included victims being transported by ambulance or medical helicopters to hospitals.