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Securing Triumph From Tragedy

Inspired by the loss of one of their own, SkillsUSA New York members join with state troopers to ensure the phrase,“Seat belts save lives,” is seen as more than a cliché, but words to live by.
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Photo courtesy of Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Career and Technical Education Center.

“A few years ago, one of my automotive technology students died in a motor vehicle accident,” says SkillsUSA advisor John Stratton, an instructor at the Oneida-Herkimer-Madison BOCES Career and Technical Education Center in New Hartford, N.Y. “When the troopers investigated, they determined that he would have survived had he been wearing a seatbelt. That led us to look into ways our SkillsUSA chapter could do something to help prevent a tragedy like that from happening again.”

Driven by their newfound resolve, Stratton’s chapter enlisted the school’s SkillsUSA OSHA (Occupational Health and Safety Administration) committee — and a group of New York state troopers — to help turn a life-ending nightmare into a lifesaving annual initiative.

At the most recent event, troopers demonstrated the Seat Belt Convincer to students, a device that allows the user to experience the surprising amount of force generated with even a low-speed collision. The result is a new respect for the benefits a seat belt can provide.  “I believe the Seat Belt Convincer truly encouraged students to understand and acknowledge the dangers of drivers and passengers riding in vehicles while unbelted,” said student Lance Daley, member of the SkillsUSA OSHA Committee. “I believe this should continue every year.”

Next, troopers unleashed the Rollover Simulator, which gave students an inside look at what happens in a crash where the driver and passengers fail to wear seat belts. This simulator replicates traveling at 40 miles per hour, then spins as if it were involved in an accident with a rollover … using crash dummies of course.

Students were able to see how unbelted passengers can be violently thrown about inside the car and potentially ejected from the window during a crash. The unique demonstration also showed how an individual could be tossed within the car and cause injury to other passengers while sustaining injuries of their own. 

The troopers added to the displays with informative presentations for each demonstration and a question-and-answer session for the students. The school hopes to continue educational events like this in the future so students can stay safe on the road.

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