Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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November 9, 2012

Student: 'OK, that one is a little scary'

ROCKY MOUNT, Va. (AP) — If it could work for a bottle of ketchup, surely it would at the scene of a mock car crash.

At least that was the reasoning a group of area traffic safety officers used when they applied a slew of checkered Quick Response codes to their standard crash presentation, given to middle school students each year.

Months of brainstorming and a $10,000 federal grant later, traffic officers, including Roanoke County police Sgt. Tim Wyatt, watched Thursday as students at the Gereau Center for Applied Technology and Career Exploration in Rocky Mount huddled around a mangled car. The teens milled around the wreck, scanning QR codes with iPads.

"Oh my gosh!" one student yelled. "OK, that one is a little scary."

As students scanned, the codes initiated video and audio clips aimed at emphasizing the importance of wearing seat belts and avoiding texting while driving.

If the wreck scene in front of them wasn't enough — with its smashed Pontiac Sunfire and crash dummies splayed glumly across the asphalt — the shocking videos just inches from their faces drove the message home. And that's the type of interaction that officers like Wyatt want to achieve, especially in localities like Franklin County, where teen crashes this year have caught the attention of authorities.

The latest fatal crash in Franklin County involving teens happened in mid-October, near Boones Mill. Six people were involved in that crash, and two later died.

The Thursday safety presentation included demonstrations by officers with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles and police from Bedford, Salem and Roanoke County. A Virginia State Police trooper was there, too.

"This is the most attentive I've seen them all day," said Salem police Detective Todd Cheyney, as he surveyed the scene.

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