On March 12th, East’s Drivers Education students gathered in the dance studio to attend Operation Impact, which is an annual presentation that educates new drivers about the dangers of careless driving.
Operation Impact was founded 13 years ago by the Oswego Rotary Club in light of the tragedy of February 2007, in which a car crash took the lives of five Oswego teenagers.
The presentation featured multiple specialists, including a nurse, a coroner, and a police officer, who talked to attendees about their experiences with negligent driving in an effort to reinforce the importance of being alert behind the wheel.
Junior Alana Wurzbacher said that the presentation included information about crimes that can be committed on the road, reasons why police can pull someone over, and other important aspects of driving cautiously.
“They showcased different events that have happened on the road, and how things can change in an instant without you realizing,” Wurzbacher said.
The presentation is intended to educate students before they get their licenses, in hopes that the lessons taught will carry over into their driving habits. Kinetic Wellness teacher Marko Jurkovic said that the presentation is important because of how deeply driving is woven into people’s lives.
“Driving is just a part of people’s lives, and we want to try to keep them as safe as possible,” Jurkovic said. “You just want to take every measure to put it in their minds to be safe behind the wheel.”
The presentation not only focused on the danger the students put themselves in when driving recklessly, but the danger they put other people in. Sophomore Cameron Lesure said that the police officer presented about safe driving and that what he said hit close to home for him.
“The things that he was going over are not only important for your safety, but the safety of other people on the road as well.” Lesure said. “You don’t want to put other people’s lives in danger.”
Wurzbacher added that this presentation made her reflect on her own occasional carelessness.
“I know sometimes I believe I’m invincible, and I really don’t think of the consequences of my actions all of the time, so something like this really shows [us] this is what can happen, because sometimes you’re like ‘Oh, that’ll never happen to me,’” Wurzbacher said. “This is kind of showing us that [we’re] wrong [and that] this is the reality of the world.”
Operation Impact is meant to leave a lasting imprint on the students who attend it, and according to Senior Kya Andrews, who attended Operation Impact her sophomore year, it has.
“Operation Impact positively influenced my driving habits by showing me how quick one’s life can change,” Andrews said. “Something as small as checking your phone for a second or even changing a song on your phone can cost you or someone else’s loved one their life.”
Andrews also said that students have the tendency to not take driving seriously, and that mindset causes accidents.
“Even while being fully attentive to the road sober, an accident can still happen,” Andrews said. “Teens especially think driving around is all fun and games but Operation Impact shows the darker side of operating a car.”
Senior Francesca Laube also attended Operation Impact her sophomore year, and said that she still remembers some of the stories and pictures she saw during the presentation.
“I think that Operation Impact has a very positive impact on students- At least it did for me,” Laube said. “The pictures and stories told were really impactful and made me think twice about driving unsafely or distracted.”
Senior Michaela Banal said that there’s no realistic way to control the way teenagers behave when they eventually do get behind the wheel, but that she thinks that Operation Impact is doing a good job getting the message across to students.
“They’re doing the scare factor which I think is pretty effective,” Banal said. “You can only tell kids so many times what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Banal added that the use of specialists in the presentation thoroughly conveyed the message to her.
“I feel like hearing things and seeing them and having professionals talk to you about them [are] completely different things,” Banal said.
Lesure said that the specialist’s portions of the presentation showed him how one mistake while driving can impact multiple people’s lives.
“The stuff that [they are] telling us is actually important, because again, these are people’s lives, they have families, there are people that do care about them, :esure said. “It will affect more people than you actually think.”
Wurzbacher agreed with this, and said that Operation impact has served as a reality check for her.
“What I’m taking away from this is that there’s a lot that can happen, and I need to be prepared for everything,” Wurzbacher said. “I need to know what I’m doing, I need to be cautious of everything around me, and I can’t be careless and put myself and others on the line.”
Troi Howell is a Co-News Editor for Oswego East High School’s online news magazine the Howl