On October 19 Master Sergeant Johnny Poulos, Director of Public Affairs and an employee the Mississippi Highway Patrol, is coming to Oak Grove to speak to students about the dangers of texting/drinking and driving along with seatbelt safety, prevalent social issues among teenagers. Poulos is entering his 14th year as a State Trooper.
Poulos is from D’iberville, Mississippi. He plays guitar in a rock band with his friends. This helps him relate to the young drivers he speaks to. He started getting passionate about the dangers of teenage driving when he investigated a fatality crash involving two 18 year old males. This initially caused him to want to put together a driving safety video and deliver it to Mississippi students, organizations, businesses, etc. “Upon arrival at the crash, I feared my oldest son was involved. The experience made me realize the need for education of teenaged drivers,” Poulos said.
Poulos has made presentations to many organizations and schools, including Mississippi Power, Alabama Power, Georgia Power, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Traffic Injury Research Foundation, Mississippi National Guard, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Navy, U.S. Forestry Service, and numerous civic organizations.
Through all of his years of presenting to groups, organizations, and schools he has won many awards. These awards include the 2007 and 2010 Best Safety Presentation at Uniformed Safety Education Workshop, 2011 Telly Award-Producer “Empty Chairs”, and the 2011 C.I.N.E Eagle Award-Best Video “Empty Chairs”.
In his presentations, Poulos shows a video that tells the stories of actual teenage/young adult victims of fatal car crashes. The results of the crashes on the victims vary from mental to physical injuries. The opening story of the video entitled “Empty Chairs” is about two parents who lost both their 17-year-old daughter and 15-year-old son. Poulos explains in the video how this is a story told by families every day in Mississippi. In the video, Poulos uses empty chairs to represent the number of students that were killed in car crashes in one year just on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Poulos shows in the video that Mississippi is ranked second in the nation in teenage driving fatalities.
The video goes on with stories similar to this. Poulos stresses to his viewers the importance of seatbelt safety, sober driving, and not texting while behind the wheel. Poulos, as always, hopes his presentation at Oak Grove High School will impact the students and save lives.