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Polly Salvatore of Poland works at Youngstown Auto Wrecking and said she sees hundreds of cars involved in accidents, some fatal.
Now, she is using her workplace to help send a message to teens about distracted driving.
Salvatore asked her boss if she could put a car in front of Poland High School to remind students to pay attention when they are behind the wheel. Her boss agreed and suggested that cars be put in front of every high school in Mahoning County.
The message is getting through loud and clear. Poland High School seniors Patrick Hiznay and Abby Begezda have looked at the totaled car stationed outside their school a few times, but now they are seeing something new.
“I didn’t realize how pushed in the front seat was and whoever was driving had to have been really hurt,” said Begezda. “It’s really scary. It just reminds me to always be safe on the road. Don’t distract drivers, don’t text and drive.”
That’s the exact message Salvatore wants students to take home. The six teens that died in a car crash in Warren and other fatal accidents are her motivation.
“Every time I heard about it, every time I saw it, all I could do was cry and feel for those people,” said Salvatore. “If by what we’re trying to do can save a husband, a mother, a teenage kid, then if we’ve saved one person, we’ve saved one.”
Another totaled car was delivered to Lowellville High School Monday. High school principal Jared Van Kirk said the vehicles are a reminder for students, but parents and other adults can learn from the visual images too.
“Big thing is to just look at it when they are driving around here, when parents drive by, anybody drives by. Hopefully, they get the understanding to slow down and take their time,” said Van Kirk. ““Anything to keep the kids safe and like I said, even parents. I catch myself wanting to text and do that also. I just have to take time out, just pay attention to what I’m doing.”
The cars are delivered to schools free of charge. Towing companies who volunteered their services are Jeswald’s Towing, Jeff Ludt Towing, Arlie Utsinger Towing and Ludt’s Towing.
Also Monday, students at Brookfield High School learned a tough lesson on the dangers of texting and driving by hearing from a man who lost his son in an accident. John Gordon lost his son Rusty, 35, five years ago when Rusty was riding a motorcycle and a truck hit him.
Rusty left behind a wife and two children. Gordon said he now takes his story to schools throughout the state, warning teenagers that their actions could kill.
Drunk driving is a 400 percent crash rick increase. With texting and driving, there is a 2,300 percent crash increase risk. So in essence, texting and driving is much more dangerous than DWI,” Gordon said.
When Gordon gives his presentation to students, he also gives them a pledge and asks them to take it home to show and sign with their parents.