‘Safe Ride Safe Lives’ reminds Fergus students not to drive distracted

Charlie Denison


Fergus High School junior Matt Welsh tries his hand at “driving under the influence” Tuesday afternoon, steering a bike while wearing “drunk goggles” as part of FCCLA’s “Safe Rides Save Lives” course in the Fergus High School parking lot.

Photo by Charlie Denison


In an effort to help their peers, Fergus High School senior Siri Pederson and other Family, Career and Community Leaders of America representatives put together a “Safe Rides Save Lives” course in front of Fergus High School Tuesday.

Not only were the stations educational, Pederson said, but also it was entertaining.

“The workshop simulates how dangerous it is to drive under the influence,” Pederson said. “We put goggles on the students who get on the bikes to simulate what it’s like to drive impaired. It’s pretty hard for them to get around the track. A lot of cones get tipped over.

Other stations focused on statistics while still others focused on how easy it is to get distracted.

“We had students pretending to drive a car at 70 miles per hour while trying to reach for a sweatshirt in the back seat,” Pederson said. “They were timed on how many seconds they spent looking down or looking back. We had one student looking away from the road for 22 seconds, which equates to a distance of more than 2,200 feet. That’s quite a ways to travel without looking at the road.”

Distracted driving is no joke, Pederson said, as there have been far too many young students affected by it in tragic ways.

Lauryn Kate Goldhahn, a former Fairfield Lady Eagle, is one example of a life lost too soon as a result of distracted driving. Just weeks after the 15-year-old Goldhahn died in a car crash, blue ribbons started appearing all over the state, courtesy of the Montana Department of Transportation, reading #buckleupblue4Lauryn.

Pederson and her FCCLA counterparts also passed out these ribbons to remind her peers how serious the consequences can be when not wearing a seat belt or not paying attention to the road. FCCLA representatives also reminded classmates of other fallen friends with a poster board full of names and faces of youth around the state – some even from Central Montana – whose lives ended abruptly due to motor vehicle accidents. For example, Chinook senior Jesse Dannels was killed in February in a semi-related accident. His death has also been inspiration and motivation for students to be extra careful behind the wheel, Pederson said, as it’s “just not worth it.”

“When you’re driving, you should put your phone on silent and not have it in sight,” she said. “Put it in your backpack.”

Pederson, FCCLA Chapter president and state FCCLA VP of finance, said she was pleased with the “Safe Rides Save Lives” project.

“Overall, it was a success,” she said. “The students had fun and also learned what to do and what not to do when they are driving. The students and teachers were impressed.”





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