HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Many teenagers have heard the warnings about drinking, texting and other distractions while they're driving. This week, hundreds of Harrison County students got a chance to experience the dangers first hand. Several agencies joined forces to host a safety campaign that targets young drivers.
"You want to go heel to toe all the way down," the deputy told the student.
It was a field sobriety test, which every student failed. That's because they wore special goggles that gave them the feeling of being drunk, the equivalent of downing three beers in an hour.
"Very, very dizzy. It's like seeing double of everything," said sophomore Zoelle Vautour.
At another station, students got behind the wheel of a simulator to experience what can happen if they text and drive.
"You're going to be distracted by dogs, pedestrians, balls," the man told the students.
"Come on, slow down," said the computer voice.
"I can't stop," the teen driver replied.
"It's kind of hard, because you're looking at the screen at the same time and try to text, and I can't use both of my eyes at the same time. I crashed into a tree. I almost killed myself," said freshman Charles Bryan.
"You're trying to drive at the same time and get the text out, but it wasn't going very well. I wrecked my car," said junior Lamarr Williams.
Saving lives was the reason State Farm brought its Celebrate My Drive campaign to Harrison Central High School.
"I kind of like to make sure that there's something that maybe I did that kept one kid from getting hurt, or maybe killed, or killing somebody else. If we start early, maybe we can help prevent some children from dying," said Teri Eaton, of State Farm.
The Mississippi Highway Patrol also showed the impact of a rollover crash to reinforce the message about seat belt safety. To drive home that message, MDOT's Seat Belt Convincer gave several students quite a jolt.
The students felt the impact of a crash as the vehicle traveled at only five miles an hour. It was a lesson the young drivers don't want to experience for real.
"When it impacts you, it's pretty hard. You need to keep your seat belt on at all times, and you'll be safe," said junior Erica Spencer.
"It shows that you cannot do this. You can harm others. You can kill somebody," said Zoelle.
State Farm also encouraged each student to go online and register to make a commitment not to text and drive. The same program was held at West Harrison High School on Wednesday.