Safe driving focus of event

Two Girl Scout Brownie Troops, with a bit of help from adults, held Watson Safe Driving Awareness Day on Saturday.

State Police let participants try the fatal vision obstacle course which simulated intoxication impairment.

“It makes you feel like you’ve had too much to drink,” participant Pat Goff said. “It’s good for kids to see how it feels, so they’d never want to do it.”

Live Oak Middle School student Patrick Smith, 12, said he didn’t enjoy it one bit.

“It made me sick to my stomach,” he said.

The Brownies gathered around in anticipation as Trooper Michael Talley controlled a roll-over simulator that showed what happens to people when their vehicle turns over and they are not buckled up.

As the test dummy flew out of the vehicle and smashed onto the ground after three spins, the girls gasped. Some took out their disposable cameras to take pictures.

“About every 13.5 hours, a fatality happens in Louisiana,” Talley said. “The majority of deaths are from not wearing a seat belt.”

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church youth ministry member, Katie Partin, 12, held a basket full of white petals in front of her booth.

“They represent those who have died in car accidents,” said Katie, who asked residents to write the names of their loved ones on a petal in remembrance.

Mella Rodriguez, who works with the church, said the subject of safe driving is very dear to her heart, so she created driver prayer cards.

“I may not speed, drink, groom myself, text, or do anything that would take my mind and eye off of the road while traveling,” an excerpt read.

Key Club President Kaycie Bernett, 15, said members hung a banner in Live Oak High School cafeteria for about a week so that students could sign and make a pledge to not text and drive.

Parents think they are being safe, checking on their child, while actually putting their child in danger, Key Club sponsor Dana Musso said of parents texting their children while the children are driving.

Livingston Driving Academy instructor Denise Callahan played the video, “Young Drivers: the High Risk Years,” on her laptop for participants.

“The academy wants to bring awareness about railroad safety,” Callahan said. “Too many people aren’t looking for a train approaching when they cross the tracks resulting in many deaths.”

To promote seat-belt safety, 10-year-old Girl Scout Valerie Hooge entered the Live Oak School poster contest and won third-place runner-up.

“Wearing a seat belt could save your life,” Valerie said. “I don’t want anybody to get hurt in a car wreck.”

More than 100 posters were entered in the contest with themes varying by age groups.

Elementary students chose bicycle safety or seat belt safety; Middle school students researched driving safety laws and chose one to illustrate; and high school students chose texting and driving, sober/DUI, and speeding.

“It’s not so fly when you get a D.U.I,” said the poster of overall high school winner Raven Bourgeois.

Delaney Ferris, 8, wanted her poster to teach people the rules of driving.

“If you don’t stop at a stop light, you might get into serious trouble,” she said.

“It’s nice that the girls here are so excited and start so young,” said Kayleigh Underwood of Southeastern Louisiana University’s Alpha Sigma Tau sorority.

The event was hosted by Girl Scout Louisiana East Brownie Troops 10384 and 10376.

Supporter Carol Hoyt said the girls did a phenomenal job.

“It gives us hope for our future; doesn’t it?” Hoyt said. “Sometimes, we just need to turn to the 7- and 8-year-olds for a little hope.”