Father, mother use son's mangled truck to raise awareness of dangerous driving

MARBLE HILL, MO (KFVS) - A local father and mother use their grief to warn teens about the deadly consequences of racing while driving.

Eddie and Gaylene Benfield are displaying the truck that their 16-year-old son was in when he crashed four months ago near Woodland High School in Marble Hill.
It's making a strong statement.
The wreck happened just before 6 a.m. on November 19, 2008.  Cole was on his way to early morning basketball practice and was racing his truck with another teen.  He lost control of the vehicle and went off the road, striking a tree. 
He was not wearing a seatbelt and was thrown from his truck.
Cole's parents brought the truck out Thursday night along Highway 34 near the school.  Many of his friends came by to sign it with messages and pay their respects.

Cole's parents say their son was a popular student with lots of friends and wants those friends to see their son's truck as a reminder to drive safely and buckle up.

"I think it is our turn around for me and my husband to tell these kids that they need to look at this as a very good example and if they like Cole that much then show respect and become something better out of it," Gaylene said.
Cole's parents brought the truck out to coincide with the Arrive Alive effort by Woodland High School these past few weeks.  The Missouri Highway Patrol brought a roll over crash simulator to school Friday.
The school has lost several students on the Bollinger County roads and school leaders want students to slow down.
"We've lost five students in a short amount of time and we want to impress upon the kids the importance of slowing down, wearing their seatbelts and driving safety," said Joelle Mayfield, Woodland High Schoo counselor.  "So the whole goal in this campaign was to primarily increase seatbelt usage."
Since the crashes and Arrive Alive campaign, several students have reported dangerous driving to teachers and have promised to wear their seatbelts more often.
As for Cole's parents, they hope the sight of his mangled truck reminds teens to keep it safe.
There is also another tool aimed at cutting down on the number of young Missouri drivers killed in car crashes.  It's a website called Operation Stop.
The site lists the names and pictures of all the young drivers killed in Missouri from 2006 until now.  It also has videos which show the dangers of drinking and driving along with speeding and hill-topping.
According to the Missouri Highway Patrol, young drivers in Missouri are involved in a large percentage of crashes across the state.
In 2007,  there were 10,998 personal injury crashes involving drivers under the age of 21.
There were also 167 deadly crashes. In the those crashes 185 people died.