By Natasha Brown


PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A Delaware County high school is sending a strong message about distracted driving to students. A mock car crash was staged on campus at Strath Haven High School Wednesday and it looked like the real thing.

Car accidents still remain the leading cause of death for 16- to 19-year-olds. The school is hoping to drive home just how dangerous drunk and distracted driving is for teens.

Police officers and firefighters responded to a devastating crash — two cars collided leaving a mangled mass of twisted metal. Fire crews worked quickly to extricate a passenger from one of the vehicles, hoping to save his life.

The graphic scene was not real, but it very well could have been.

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“It was scary, it’s an emotional experience,” high school senior Wyeth Hackett said. “That’s what we’re trying to convey to the students here, that it’s very serious.”

Students at Strath Haven High School got to see first-hand the potentially tragic effects of a crash brought on by distracted driving. The mock crash played out with students looking on as fellow students from the school’s drama department acted out the scenario.

“I was the driver in one of the vehicles and I was drunk driving,” senior Isabel Zarrow said. “At first I wasn’t sure how it was going to feel, but during it and really being invested in it, it felt very real.”

State Farm, Main Line Health and other local police and fire officials hosted the program.

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After the mock crash scene, students were brought inside the auditorium to hear from those who have been personally impacted by similar accidents. Organizers hope to drive home the dangers of drunk, drug and distracted driving.

“You can’t just have scare tactics, you have to have share tactics,” Dave Phillips, of State Farm, said. “You can’t just have a mock crash and then send kids back to the classroom after witnessing something as horrific as that, even if they are participating.”

Mock crash programs like this are usually hosted around prom season at local schools. Strath Haven High School’s junior prom is this weekend.