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Team Niagara hosts traffic safety program

Base firefighter cuts through the front window of a vehicle after crash, as firefighters attempt to remove simulated occupants from the vehicle during the traffic safety program here May 21.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Catherine Perretta).

Base firefighter cuts through the front window of a vehicle after crash, as firefighters attempt to remove simulated occupants from the vehicle during the traffic safety program here May 21. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Catherine Perretta).

Students watch as a car crashes into a van at approximately 30 mph May 21.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Catherine Perretta).

Students watch as a car crashes into a van at approximately 30 mph May 21. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Catherine Perretta).

Lockport high school student walks by a casket filled with photos of a girl who died in a drinking and driving accident.  This experience is part of the victim impact panel.  Before the students walk by the casket, a loved one of the deceased talks to the students about their loss.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rebecca Kenyon).

A Lockport high school student walks by a casket filled with photos of a girl who died in a drinking and driving accident. This experience is part of the victim impact panel. Before the students walk by the casket, a loved one of the deceased speaks to students about their loss. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Rebecca Kenyon).

A firefighter from the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company, Wheatfield, N.Y. rescues a mannequin from a vehicle after using the Jaws of Life to open the vehicle.  The vehicle was part of a crash demonstration for the traffic safety program here May 16.  (Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Kenyon).

A firefighter from the Frontier Volunteer Fire Company, Wheatfield, N.Y. rescues a mannequin from a vehicle after using the Jaws of Life to open the vehicle. The vehicle was part of a crash demonstration for the traffic safety program here May 16. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Kenyon).

NIAGARA FALLS ARS, N.Y. -- It begins in a dark auditorium with a video about drinking and driving, and if the video doesn't show a high school student why not to drink and drive - what comes next will.

Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station hosts an eight-day traffic safety program here for local high schools May 14-22.  The program is orchestrated by local law enforcement agencies, local fire departments, other New York State traffic safety experts and victim impact speakers.

Each day, a different high school attends the program. The day-long program reaches out to high school seniors who are on the brink of prom season. First, the students view a video about drinking and driving at the base theatre.

After the video, the students meet a victim. The victim is someone who has lost a loved one to a drinking and driving accident. Each day there is a different victim, and each day the scenario is different. But for each experience that is shared, there is a similarity. Every victim describes a painful and permanent loss which resulted from one quick decision - the decision to drink and drive.

When the students leave the base theatre, they are bussed to a nearby hanger for a variety of traffic safety demonstrations. Inside the hanger, they watch a simulated roll-over. Outside the hanger, students try on goggles that simulate intoxication to show delayed responses. On the flightline students participate in a driving course that teaches them that using a cell phone while driving can also be a deadly decision.

Gregory Arquette, NYS Trooper said the driving course shows the students how difficult it is to text while driving. First, the student driver must drive through and around cones without texting and then they must attempt to do the same while sending and receiving text messages.

Thomas McDonnell, NYS Trooper said as students hit cones, they are told the cone they hit represents a vehicle or a person.

"What we would like the students to take away from this program is not to talk on the phone while driving or attempt to text," said Arquette.

Arquette said he urges students to pull over and park in a safe spot when they need to talk on their cell phone or send a text message.

At the end of the program,  students watch a 30 mph crash with simulated occupants.

After the impact, first responders take over to show students approximately how long it takes for fire fighters and ambulances to respond. Fire fighters break windows, sometimes remove doors, and many times use the Jaws of Life to remove the roof from the car to get the mannequins out of the vehicle.

"It shows them that in a 30 mph crash, there is a lot of damage, a lot of force, and potentially a fatality," said McDonnell.