Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

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May 17, 2014

Students learn about safety at fairgrounds

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — Students from Lockport and North Tonawanda high schools got a sobering look at the impact of drunken and distracted driving yesterday at the 19th annual Niagara Regional Traffic Safety Fair at the Niagara County Fairgrounds. 

The fair, put on by a partnership between the Niagara County Sheriff's Office, Niagara County STOP-DWI, the Niagara County Office of Traffic Safety, the New York State Police, Lockport Police and the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County, began last Tuesday and runs through this Tuesday. Schools from five surrounding counties will have taken part in the fair by the time it wraps up, said Niagara County Sheriff's Deputy Robert Richards. 

A number of events were offered to students, all focusing on safe driving practices. Mercy Flight allowed students to take a look at the inner-operations of the helicopter, and students formed teams of four and tried to race each other on who could enter a car and buckle their seat belts the fastest. 

The Lockport Police set up a driving course for students, who were able to drive golf carts while texting or while wearing goggles meant to mimic the effect of alcohol on the driving. A crash site was also on display, with a Sheriff's Deputy giving a first-hand account of what it's like to encounter the scene of an accident. 

The idea, Richards said, is to get students in the mindset of thinking about safety before prom season hits.

"They enjoy it," he said. "They get to come and see the cars and ask questions they may not be able to otherwise. It's important."

Dennis Gleason, the survivor of being struck by a drunk driver, gave a talk to the students on the impact the accident had on his life. Gleason, who was on his way to a career coaching basketball on either the college or pro level, described the accident in uncomfortable detail. 

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