COLUMBIA — More than 800 Missouri residents have gone too soon because of reckless driving.
That's the message Lt. John Hotz and the Missouri State Highway Patrol want to convey to teen drivers with the video "Gone Too Soon." The video focuses on the three main causes of crashes: speed, inattention and alcohol consumption. Hotz said the video also pushes the use of seat belts.
"We had a six-year period where traffic crashes were continually going down," Hotz said. "Both enforcement and education help out with that."
The video features pictures of crashes caused by careless driving and drunken driving, as well as three interviews. The first interview is of a woman whose car overturned three times, but she was able to walk away from the incident because she was wearing a seat belt, which is one of the main messages of the film.
The second and third interviews feature drunken driving as a central theme. In one interview, a young woman describes how she drove into a car head-on while drunk, killing two people; in another, a family describes being hit from behind by a drunk driver who was driving 152 miles per hour in a Camaro.
"Gone Too Soon" also features Columbia native Carl Edwards, who discusses the dangers of texting and driving, a risk teens commonly take behind the wheel. In the video, Edwards attempted to weave through cones while texting, crashing into them several times.
"Even a professional NASCAR driver can't text and drive," Hotz said.
The Missouri State Highway Patrol offers programs about safe driving, free of charge, to schools, churches and other organizations.
The video, which uses songs currently on the radio to help young drivers remember it while driving, can be a key tool in preventing crashes, Hotz said. The Missouri State Highway Patrol made an agreement with the record companies to not dispense the video outside of presentations.
For those who cannot see the video, Hotz summarized the key points quickly: Pay attention, drive sober and wear a seat belt.
Supervising editor is Simina Mistreanu.