With a message that was part physics lesson and part cautionary tale, a Columbia County sheriff's deputy lectured on the science of accident reconstruction to students of Lakeside High School.
"Traffic accident reconstruction is based on Newton's three laws of motion," said Tim Perry, a police staff sergeant who reconstructs fatal vehicle crashes in Columbia County for the sheriff's office. "I never thought I'd see that again after high school."
Mass multiplied with acceleration creates force, Perry explained.
Using more complicated mathematical formulas derived from that simple equation, he told more than 300 students Oct. 17, he can determine the speed, trajectory and cause of a crash.
Lakeside High physics teacher David Kassner said the lecture gave his students an understanding of how what they are learning in the classroom translates to everyday life.
"They get a chance to see a relevant application of physics," he said.
Columbia County ranks third in the state for the most deaths involving teenage drivers, Perry said. He used science to explain the consequences of unsafe driving using what he called "The Deadly Equation."
The equation illustrates what happens to a car, traveling 55 mph, and the driver one second after impact with a stationary object.
Like Kassner, Perry said he hopes the lecture instills in students a greater respect for the force generated by, and the dangers involved in, operating a moving vehicle.
"Teenagers just don't hear the warnings from their parents, or police officers, about how dangerous a car can be," Perry said. "By telling them the science of what happens in a wreck, I hope they'll get the message."
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