IN OUR OPINION | Make smart decisions in diving and in living

Mitchell Road was blocked off near the high school for couple of hours May 30 as a truck and car were tangled together.

From the distance, screams from frantic teenagers could be heard as they came to the aid of classmates who were injured and bleeding in the crash.

On the scene were police officers, firefighters, medics and the coroner’s office. Injured teens were treated by emergency personnel, while the bodies of the deceased were covered.

This was the scene of a mock DUI crash.

Personnel from South Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Port Orchard Police Department and the Kitsap County Coroner’s Office tried to make the activity as realistic as possible, and the South Kitsap High School’s Acting Ensemble gave a brilliant performance.

The event has been held in front of the school for more than 15 years, before prom and graduation. The prom was held on May 31 and commencement is June 10.

Although the mock crash was not real, actual crashes happen way too often.

It’s hard to imagine being involved in a crash that kills a fellow classmate, friend or family member. The smell of gasoline, the sight of blood, the sound of sirens — they all come together into one unforgettable moment in time. Something that cannot be erased from your memory.

In our careers, this news staff has covered too many stories and taken too many photographs of senseless car crashes in which teenagers died.

For years, we’ve have been warned about the dangers of mixing alcohol, drugs and driving. But in today’s world, texting, talking on cell phones and loud music have been added to that list. Heed the warnings.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day from 2008-12 in the state, 100 people died in traffic collisions involving drivers age 16-20. AAA urges parents of teens to increase their focus on safety during the months ahead.

“Parents should not underestimate the critical role they play in keeping their teens safe, especially during these high-risk months,” said Jennifer Cook, AAA Washington spokesperson. “When school’s out, teens have more opportunities to be behind the wheel increasing their risk. AAA encourages parents to start the summer off with a parent-teen driving agreement to clearly define their child’s driving responsibilities, privileges and consequences to set the stage for a safe summer.”

Nationally, motor vehicle crashes continue to be the leading cause of death for 15- to 20-year-olds, according to the National Center for Health Statistics. Across the nation in 2012, 1,875 young drivers (age 15-20) died in motor vehicle crashes. The good news is that teen driver (age 15-20) fatalities have been steadily declining this past decade, down 49 percent between 2003-12.

Once again this year, South Kitsap mourns the death of a teenager. Alena Pepi, 18, was killed in a one-vehicle crash on June 2. She was one of seven people riding in a truck that struck a tree on a forest service road near Shelton. Deputies say alcohol and marijuana may have been a factor.

Make smart decisions while driving. In less than a fraction of a second, life as you know it can be changed or ended all together.


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