By David Baker
Anyone who received a California state driver’s license in high school from 1964 on will most likely recall the film "Red Asphalt." This is a series of instructional driver’s education films produced by the California Highway Patrol, designed to scare young drivers straight by showing rather graphic scenes of collisions involving reckless or drunk driving.
The purpose is to drive home the fact that driving is a privilege, not a right, and needs to be taken seriously. Some private driving schools still show the film, but not all do. With the discontinuation of most public school drivers education programs, there has been a gap in that level of education, leaving educators to find other ways to communicate the seriousness of the driving privilege.
MADD is there for just such a purpose.
Today, there was a temporary addition to the Paloma Valley High School campus, located just outside the athletics area. MADD supplied a trailer containing a red Acura Integra that was demolished in a drunk driving accident.
Signs and pictures on the trailer tell the story of 20-year-old Ryan Kyle Smith, who was killed by a drunk driver in Palm Desert in 2002. As the signs say, he loved his red Acura Integra, and that car now serves to remind teenagers of the seriousness of driving drunk -- that it’s not just about them, but that they could hurt somebody else, too.
"Some questioned if the car was actually real," said campus supervisor Kathy Sass. "I told them, 'Of course it's real. What do you think happens to the car after it gets totaled like this?' The kid’s family donated it to MADD and they put it on display."
The individual responsible for coordinating the display was Paloma Valley PE teacher Katie Bradley. In addition to her teaching duties, Bradley is also the Friday Night Live Advisor. Friday Night Live is a county program focusing on alcohol and drug prevention in teens.
Bradley said that this display was a precursor to next week's Red Ribbon Week.
"It's really a big deal that we got this," she said. "We could only have it for one day. Yesterday it was in Temecula and tomorrow it will move on to Moreno Valley."
During Red Ribbon Week, there will be games and music at lunch while the students are encouraged to sign pledges to be alcohol and drug-free. There also will be a door decorating contest for the students’ home room surrounding the theme "A healthy me is drug-free."
Each day will have its own theme. Tuesday will be the traditional "wear red to be drug-free" theme. Wednesday will be "team up against drugs", where students will wear the jersey from their favorite team. In honor of Halloween, Thursday's theme will be "scare off drugs." And Friday will be "sock it to drugs", where the students will wear crazy socks.
Parents are encouraged to discuss this with their students and have open and honest dialogue about the situation. Knowledge is half the battle.