Teen racer makes an impact, promotes seat belt use | TheUnion.com

Teen racer makes an impact, promotes seat belt use

David Mirhadi
Staff Writer

They cringed and yelled at some of the wreckage they saw in front of them.

Twisted metal, wrapped around mangled rubber and broken glass.

Skid marks and bent hubcaps.

The students at Nevada Union saw it all ” from the safety of a cafeteria seat.

But it’s the real world, once you put the key in the ignition, where scenes like the ones Alexander Rossi described become real.

Unlike the pictures of the harrowing race Rossi showed students, where a Formula One race car quickly disintegrated and the driver walked away with nary a scratch,

Rossi knows his fellow drivers won’t be so lucky if they don’t buckle up.

“In a car, the seat belt is all you have to protect yourself. All you have is your body and your seat belt,” said Rossi, 17, a Nevada City resident who drives open-wheel cars on the Formula BMW racing circuit.

Rossi was at Nevada Union and Bear River high schools Thursday to help promote “Project Impact,” designed to increase seat-belt use among high school-aged drivers.

It’s basically a competition between the two high schools and Colfax High to see which campus can score the most seat belt compliance. The competition extends through Feb. 9.

Students also saw footage of a crash that involved Grass Valley Police officer Kyle Shoberg in September 2007.

Shoberg was responding to a call when he was hit by a drunk driver. He wasn’t wearing his seat belt at the time and suffered numerous injuries and had to undergo plastic surgery before he could return to work.

“I’m pretty lucky that I’m still able to work,” he said.

Though they may not be driving 140 miles an hour on an oval or pursuing lawbreakers, students interviewed said they try to be conscientious while driving.

“I feel like there’s something missing if I don’t wear my seat belt,” said senior Andrea Mulligan.

The school that wins the compliance challenge gets T-shirts and a school dance.

“I think this will help kids wear seat belts,” said Brenna Aydelott, 16. “Especially if they

get something out of it.”

Though Rossi mentioned the $85 penalty for not wearing a seat belt, he added pointedly, “Without wearing one, the penalty can be death.”

To contact Staff Writer David Mirhadi,e-mail dmirhadi@theunion.com or call 477-4239.

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