Seatbelt Usage Stressed to Teens

Some serious accidents over the last few weeks in our area have turned attention to how to best stay safe behind the wheel.

The most serious of those accidents involved a youth group from First Baptist Church of Shreveport. The church bus rolled over while they were driving through Meridian, killing one and injuring more than twenty people.

A group of young drivers learned about the dangers of those rollover crashes Wednesday at a Teen Driving Summit at the Lauderdale County Training Facility.

Traveling at just 5 miles an hour may seem harmless but the collision it can cause is not.

A simulator used by the Mississippi Department of Transportation is being used as part of a week-long course to not only help teenagers become better drivers, but ultimately to help keep them safe when behind the wheel.

"It was scary. It really was," said participant Asha Amos after getting off 'The Convincer'.

"We lose about 6,000 a year. So, we're trying to teach these kids how to survive on these roads," said driving instructor Michael Street.

Sponsored by Meridian's Homeland Security and the Meridian Police Department, instructors used the simulator along with a 35 mile an hour rollover simulate to stress how deadly unsafe driving can be even at low speeds.

"You can get thrown around in the inside of the vehicle. You can get ejected out of the vehicle," said Lisa Valadia of MDOT. "I've gone to crashes where the person was ejected and the vehicle kept rolling and rolled on top of them."

Last year in Mississippi almost 800 people were killed in highway accidents. Of those, 75% were unrestrained."

Officials say if drivers and passengers don't have their seatbelts on, then they're going to go through the windshield and be

"From our graduates we're seeing about a 64% effectiveness in terms of accidents. We feel we've reduced the number that have been fatally injured or major injuries," said Valadia/ "It's extremely important or we wouldn't be doing it."


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