The blood may not have been real, but the lessons from the mock collision that was staged on Thursday morning in Carstairs are very much something to take to heart.
Students from Hugh Sutherland School, as well as the Double Trouble Drinking & Driving Awareness Team, had organized the event in the hopes of a very visceral lesson on the tragic consequences of impaired driving. Apart from the student actor participants, the Carstairs Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, as well as the RCMP all participated.
In the particular scenario that played out in front of students, a mini-van with three youths, including an 'impaired driver' collided with a school bus, causing a fatality. The impaired driver was in fact, mock arrested and placed in an RCMP cruiser.
In reality, those who are caught driving impaired can face both provincial and federal legal ramifications.
For those who have a Class 7 learner’s licence or a Class 5-GDL licence category, there is zero tolerance for any alcohol and drugs for novice drivers. If your driver’s licence has been suspended, you will receive the following penalties:
- an immediate 30-day driver’s licence suspension where you are unable to drive under any circumstances
- a 7-day vehicle seizure
- a $200 fine plus a victim fine surcharge of 20 per cent
"Additionally, law enforcement can proceed with charges under the Criminal Code of Canada, that can result in further penalties imposed by the courts," the province states. "Repeat DUIs show a pattern of high-risk driving behaviour and the penalties escalate with each prior occurrence."
Janet Cornell, a Family School Wellness worker for Hugh Sutherland School said this program has been in place for two decades.
"A young girl approached me saying if we could start a SADD [Students Against Drunk Driving] group because she had lost her dad to a drunk driver while he was biking home," Cornell said. "Since then, the team gets bigger and bigger and with that, our messages become stronger."
While the mock collision was meant to be as a preventative measure for the grade nine to 12 students who sat in the bleachers in front of the Carstairs Curling Rink, Cornell said the message applies to everyone - especially ahead of the May long weekend.
"That's exactly why we chose this day. Sadly enough, the number one cause of death among teens and adults in their early 20s is drinking and driving, distracted driving or driving high. These kids in this school, in this community - are dead set on that issue. If there's a party, these kids are taking keys; these kids are spreading that message that we care."
Apart from the first responders who were on the scene, Victims Services also attended, as in a real-life scenario they would.
Perhaps the most eerie portion of the presentation came at the very end when a local funeral service (Heartland Funeral Services Ltd) carefully wrapped the victim up in a blanket and carried them into a hearse.
According to Statistics Canada, In 2019, police services in Canada reported 85,673 incidents of impaired driving, for a rate of 228 incidents per 100,000 population. In Alberta, there were 290 cases of police-reported impaired driving, by substance-causing impairment.
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