Not long after she graduated high school, Krystian Fish learned her best friend had been seriously injured in a car accident. Another driver apparently had been using his phone, ran a red light and smashed into the teen’s car.
Fish, who now reigns as Miss Kansas 2017, spent the rest of that summer assuring her friend that everything would be fine, that her friend could still go to college and play volleyball on scholarship. But it didn’t happen. Her friend lost her spot on the team, lost her scholarship and transferred to another college.
Though the crash wasn’t her friend’s fault, “she has paid the consequences for it,” Fish told Iola High School students during an assembly Tuesday for Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD).
The IHS SADD Chapter brought Fish to speak because they thought students would be more receptive to a message from someone who was close to their ages, SADD President Olivia Taylor and Vice President Sloan Geddry said.
Fish encouraged students to make good choices when they get behind the wheel of a car. She covered such topics as texting while driving, distracted driving, sleep deprivation, seat belt use and more.
Teenagers have a higher rate of car crashes than other age groups, Fish said, with cell phone use while driving one of the biggest causes. At 55 mph, it takes just five seconds to travel the length of a football field. She asked students to think about how long it takes to get a text and read it: About 5 seconds.
“What can happen in 5 seconds?” she asked. “Is it worth your life? Your entire life. Everything you are, everything you’ve accomplished, everything you’ve got going for you. Trading it in for a cell phone text.”
Fish outlined different types of distracted driving:
– Visual: Anything that takes your eyes off the road.
– Manual: Anything that takes your hands off the wheel.
– Cognitive: Anything that takes your mind off the task.
She talked about the dangers of sleep deprivation, especially for teenagers who might be busy with a variety of sports or other extra-curricular activities.
She also stressed the use of seat belts and organized a brief fashion show with two IHS students who modeled seat belt sashes decorated with lots of bling: “The hottest trend is seat belts,” she said.
She ended by asking students to pledge to value their lives, get rid of driving distractions and wear seat belts.
“I know you’ve got a lot going on. Your life is crazy. But it is so important that you get good sleep, that you take care of your bodies, that you listen to me right now,” Fish said.
“Your life is worth it. … You should be here. You have big things to do, you have big futures to plan but you can’t do anything if you aren’t here.”
PHOTO: 2017 Miss Kansas Krystian Fish speaks to Iola High School students and staff about driving distractions and other topics. The assembly Tuesday was organized by the IHS SADD Chapter. REGISTER/VICKIE MOSS