Jackson County has the highest number of teen driver deaths, per capita, in the state of Florida.
So the county hosts several Teen Driver Challenges and Arrive Alive events at the schools every year.
“Over the past seven years we have lost eleven teenagers in Jackson County,” said Jim Hamilton, Sneads High SRO. “We are rated number one per capita of traffic crashes with kids.”
Which is why Sheriff Lou Roberts makes it a point to have the Arrive Alive tour visit Jackson County schools every year.
A group of ambassadors with Arrive Alive talk with students about drinking and driving as well as texting and driving, then the students put on virtual reality goggles to simulate driving under those circumstances.
“Once they step out, I usually have my partner hand them a dui or texting and driving citation. Which, things start becoming a lot more real when you tell them, that actually cost 12 grand, that actually cost 20 grand,” said Max Vandewater, safety ambassador. “These are the repercussions that you’re dealing with when you’re actually taking control of the wheel and drinking and driving or texting and driving.”
Vandewater said that each student has a different reaction to the simulator, but most agree that it’s helpful.
“A lot of them will go, wow that was super difficult and unfair and I get to say, well life is unfair and actually people do pull out in front of you and it is super difficult when, especially when you start texting and driving. You don’t give yourself a chance to be defensive,” said Vandewater.
Some students at Sneads High School said the test puts drinking and driving into perspective, and they will be more cautious now while driving.
“I think it shows you the consequences of what could happen if you text and drive or drink and drive,” said Jackson Milsapp, Sneads High student.
“Yeah and you can have your life be taken, like that,” said Trent Smith, Sneads High student.
“And somebody else’s,” said Jakeb Renfroe, Sneads High student.
Jackson County also hosts Teen Driver’s Challenges throughout the year to allow hands on driving lessons under similar circumstance.