The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

November 14, 2008

Graphic State Patrol video aimed at teens

In Minnesota, traffic crashes account for more teen deaths than illnesses or suicide

MANKATO — Trooper Gabe Cornish can tell teen drivers about the blood-stained pavement, the twisted metal and mangled bodies or the jolting screams of someone trapped inside a crushed car.

Chances are, studies have shown, they’re not going to listen.

So the State Patrol is going graphic to tell teen drivers they’re far more likely to die in a traffic crash than from suicide, cancer, homicide or other accidents.

Using photos from actual crash scenes, including a few in the Mankato area, moving music and the personal stories of four Minnesota teenagers, the State Patrol has created an 18-minute video. With quick flashes of bodies wrapped in metal or lying lifeless on the road, it shows how decisions to drive drunk, too fast or while being distracted by cell phones and passengers can end in tragedy.

“These are real live images of young kids just like the kids here in Mankato,” Cornish said. “We can talk until we are blue in the face, but this video shows the real life consequences of texting or drinking while driving.”

Troopers working for the district based in Mankato are hoping to show the video in schools throughout southwestern Minnesota. It’s part of a larger presentation that includes an introduction by a trooper, an overall lesson plan, handouts and questions from the audience.

“We want our troopers to be involved,” said Sgt. Jacalyn Sticha, spokeswoman for the Mankato district. “They will talk about themselves, about making healthy decisions and lay the foundation for the graphics.”

Troopers don’t want to limit their audience to students, either, Sticha said. They also want to bring the presentation to groups such as Kiwanis, Lions and professional clubs so the same message gets to the parents of teen drivers.

That’s a plan that makes sense, said Gail Weinholzer, spokeswoman for AAA Minnesota/Iowa. She said she saw the presentation and video last month during a State Patrol conference in Rochester.

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