HARRISON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The Mississippi Highway Patrol brought in its new DRIVE program to help drive home the message of safety on the eve of St. Patrick High School's prom.
Lt. Johnny Poulos, with the Mississippi Highway Patrol, made it clear: Bad decisions behind the wheel can end your life in seconds, and it has happened too many times. Seventy-five teenagers died in car accidents in Mississippi last year.
Poulos had his reality check prom talk to high school students as part of the patrol's new DRIVE program, or Driving Requires Initiative, Values and Education.
The program provides crash information to be used in driver's education and health classes to help students and adults understand how violent wrecks can be.
The program began doing prom programs last year, and the classroom education component will be fully implemented this fall.
"It doesn't matter if you are a student just learning how to drive or if you're an adult and you've been behind the wheel for 40 years," Poulos said. "We all have to be reminded of the devastation and the tragedy that can happen in a traffic crash."
The safety message is especially important on prom night.
"We want them to enjoy tomorrow night," Poulos said. "We want them to have a good time, but to do that, you still have to make really good, responsible decisions."
The presentation made an impression.
"It's really crazy to realize that one bad decision that you make, whether it be sending a text while driving or deciding to have a few drinks before you drive, it could change your life forever," said senior Madison Costanza.
Senior Victoria Tyler says she will be the official safety monitor on her date.
"Actually, the guy I'm going with, I always have to bug him about putting on his seatbelt," Victoria said. "So, I will make sure tomorrow night to let him know."