Driving while oblivious is one thing Sherman teen Olivia Seegers is sure she will never do.

Olivia, 15, said she took a new appreciation for the seriousness of being behind the wheel of a car from the "Survive the Drive" presentation given Nov. 8 at Sherman School.

"It opened your eyes," Olivia said. "My mom always told me a car can be a weapon, but when Mr.(Bob) Green said that tonight, it really hit home."

"I know I'll be a better driver now," she added, "when I get my license."

Mr. Green, a New Milford native, driving instructor and traffic safety specialist, was at his animated finest will giving his nationally acclaimed presentation, "Survive the Drive."

An audience of about 90 including teens, their parents and other area residents attended.

They received loudly and clearly Mr. Green's message that "conscious awareness (while driving) is the important part of the whole thing."

Don't text, talk on the phone or drink while driving, he emphasized. Pay attention to other drivers and people who are crossing the road texting.

"Driving while oblivious is as dangerous as driving drunk, blind or asleep," said Mr. Green, a 1964 graduate of New Milford High School who admitted to wrecking a family car when he was a teen.

His kinetic presentation drove the message home.

Six million crashes happen every year in this country, he said. Cranial hematoma is the leading cause of death from car crashes.

When Mr. Green slammed a safety helmet to the floor with a bang and the Styrofoam head in it bounced, the fact was driven home one's head keeps moving when the car crashes to a stop -- and as the neck and head snap back and forth, the brain is slamming into the skull.

State trooper Carlos Guerra of the Traffic Services Division exhibited the rollover machine -- a twirling passenger section of a police cruiser -- with three dummies inside.

As the car rolled, the dummies were ejected through the open windows. They were not wearing seatbelts.

Trooper Guerra's message: "Seatbelts are life saving devices. When combined with airbags, they work."

"Survive the Drive" was presented by the Sherman Traffic Safety Work Group and the Sherman PTO.

The safety work group was organized two years ago by then selectman Ed Hayes in response to three traffic fatalities over a four-year period in the town.

"Our goal is to change people's attitudes toward driving," Mr. Hayes said. "At the beginning of this year, we had students at Sherman School take a pledge to be safer passengers.

"We're transitioning our message to adults now. Tonight, we've reached out to teenagers," Mr. Hayes said. "I hope they really got the message."

For more photos, visit www.newmilfordspectrum.com.

stuz@newstimes.com; 860-355-7322

Photography by Norm Cummings