Alex Blencowe/Contributing Writer
More than 7000 Americans died in motor vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Board. In Florida, at least 85 crashes by distracted drivers turned fatal in 2010 and 2011.
Counseling and Psychological Services, Student Health Services and the Florida Department of Transportation is hosting CAPSapalooza 2013 just in time for National College Alcohol and Drug Awareness Week.
CAPSapalooza, in partnership with the FDOT’s Put It Down Campaign, will feature two events: “Get It Straight” and “Get Crashed.”
The events are an interactive and preventative approach to helping students to think about situations that put them at risk, wrote event organizers Xuan Stevens, University psychologist, and Silva Hassert, psychology intern, in an email.
“Get It Straight” will feature special guest speaker Laura Finley, vice president of the Humanity Project Board of Directors and assistant professor of criminology and sociology at Barry University, who will share her inspirational story about the dangers of drug abuse and irresponsible behavior.
“Get Crashed” will feature a rock-climbing wall and a bounce house that Stevens and Hassert say will be part of an “educational experience geared towards changing students’ negative association and inappropriate use of the bounce house while intoxicated.”
The Florida Department of Transportation, the American Automobile Association and AT&T are also bringing some interesting attractions: a distracted driving simulator, a roll-over simulator, motor squads, a BAT mobile and more. Delicious Capri-Sun “mocktails” will be served at the “Get Crashed” event, and “they are most certainly non-alcoholic,” says Hassert.
Students from local surrounding high schools are invited to join the events. According to Hassert’s findings, about 662 students attended in 2011 and there were about a thousand attendees in 2012, with more expected this year.
Carlos Sarmiento, community Traffic Safety Program Coordinator at the Florida Department of Transportation, District 6, says the Put It Down Campaign has visited high schools, colleges and universities for the past three years, and has reached 4.2 million people so far. This year the FDOT hopes to get new data on how effective the recent Florida ban on texting and driving has been in making roads safer.
“The Put It Down Campaign and CAPSapalooza is an opportunity for students to learn and share experiences about what they do when they drive,” said Sarmiento.
Funding for CAPSapalooza is provided by CAPS, the Victim Empowerment Program, Student Government, Campus Recreation, Student Health Services through the student health fee, and Campus Life through the student activities fee.
In attendance will be members of the Florida Highway Patrol, Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, Miami-Dade Metropolitan and Planning Organization, South Florida Commuter Services, as well as officials of various police departments such as Bay Harbor Islands, Aventura and Sunny Isles, to name a few.
CAPSapalooza “Get It Straight” will take place on Oct. 30, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at Bay Vista Housing at BBC, and will be video-conferenced to the Parkview Multipurpose Room at MMC during that time. CAPSapalooza “Get Crashed” will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on Oct. 29 in ACII Breezeway at BBC and on Oct. 31 at Betty Chapman Plaza at MMC.
Sarah Kenneally, senior health educator of Student Health Services Wellness Center, says it’s not just about drugs, alcohol and texting while driving.
“We want students to be more responsible with the decisions they make and the consequences of their actions,” Kenneally said.