Influencing new drivers to wear their seatbelts at all times is one of the many purposes of the seatbelt convincer.
The convincer was provided to Marion Police Department as part of the Governor’s Highway Safety Program for anyone to experience what it’s like to crash a car while wearing your seatbelt. McDowell High students in driver’s education class learned from School Resource Office Sgt. Mike Hensley on how to stay safe on the road.
“I want you to have fun with it, but it’s to teach you a lesson as well,” Hensley said to the class. “You will get in the seat with the seatbelt on. You will be elevated and when I flip the switch you will go down the ramp at 8 to 10 miles per hour. At the bottom, you will hit a rubber post like a 10 mile an hour crash and the seatbelt will catch. It will show you what it feels like to hit something at 10 miles an hour. The reason we show you this, so in your mind you can estimate what it’s going to feel like when you hit something at 50 or 60 miles an hour. This tool is to show you how important a seatbelt is.”
Hensley works with the driver’s ed students on traffic laws, crashes and inspecting your vehicle, among other topics.
“It’s really good for them to communicate with me. I always tell them it’s a good time to ask me questions before my blue lights are on,” said Hensley.
One by one students belted into the convincer nervously laughing at each turn. Sophomore Deveyon Pluig said he doesn’t know how the convincer or the lessons he learned from Hensley will help in the future, but he does know he will be wearing his seatbelt.
“It was scary,” he said. “I feel bad for people that were getting in wrecks. It was really jerky.”