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TxDOT Rollover Simulation Educates Students on Seatbelt Safety

Select classes of students were given the opportunity to watch road safety presentation.
Photo by Zoie Carlile
TxDOT presenter explains rollover simulator to students. The simulation is designed to inform teens about seatbelt safety. “Wearing a seatbelt can make the difference in a crash and save lives,” TxDOT Public Information Officer Tila Grant said. “It’s essential to stress this importance to teens in schools.”

The Texas Department of Transportation came on February 27th to demonstrate the importance of wearing seatbelts. With a team of TxDOT safety officers, a few engineers in training and a rigged truck that bounces around body dummies without seatbelts, TxDOT educated students about seatbelt safety.

“After the presentation, I definitely started to wear my seatbelt more,” sophomore Eugenio Galvan said. “I used to forget sometimes, but now I’m sure to do it every time.”

Prior to the demonstration, police chief Mark Rowden, principal Jeremy Gilbert and a few administrators selected a few classes that would view the presentation, as the TxDOT team was only available from 9 a.m. to 2:45 p.m.

“We wanted to try to get as many kids exposed to the presentation as we possibly could, and really, if it comes down to it, if we save one life out of all those kids that attended then it was worth it,” Rowden said.

After the students were brought outside the school, the TxDOT team gave a few short speeches to the crowd which included facts and anecdotes from former officers’ experiences with fatal car accidents.

“Safety is paramount. We want everyone to be as safe as possible and to stay alive,” TxDOT Public Information Officer Tila Grant said. “Wearing a seatbelt can make the difference in a crash and save lives. It’s essential to stress this importance to teens in schools.”

But before the students leave, they get a chance to see the TxDOT “Convincer,” a rollover crash simulator that consists of a few life sized dummies inside the cab of a truck. The cab spins once with the dummies buckled up and once with no restraints to demonstrate how wearing a seatbelt can be the difference between life or death.

“Human beings, for the most part, are visual learners,” Rowden said. “When you see an example of what could happen during an accident, then you’re a whole lot more likely to understand the importance of seatbelts.”

TxDOT’s rollover presentation has been given annually to many Texas schools over the last few years. But this year was the first time Highland Park students experienced the simulation.

“I hope to make it a tradition because as we rotate through students and people graduate, we need to keep educating them on road safety,” Rowden said.

Teens especially are an important demographic to target with this simulation as they are immature drivers with little experience.

“Approximately 51% of teens killed in Texas crashes were not wearing their seat belts in 2022 alone,” Grant said. “Teens and young adults have so much of their future ahead of them, and by reaching them now, we can help them make good choices that can impact their lives positively.”

At the end of the presentation, as students were led back to their classes, special merchandise was given out including backpacks, bike lights and pens with TxDOT branding on them.

“We like to give something tangible to the teens to remember the event by,” Grant said. “It serves as a reminder of the importance of safety. It’s something they can keep and look at to recall the safety message.”

About the Contributor
Augusta McKenzie
Augusta McKenzie, Reporter
What are you looking forward to on the staff this year? Hanging out with the Newspaper staff. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?  A tree house on a small island or in the rainforest with tons of colorful birds. If you could only eat one food for the rest of your life, what would it be? Pasta