The repercussions of distracted or impaired driving are obvious, but to get to physically see it sheds a whole new light.
Students, teachers and others at Sen Pok Chin school on the Osoyoos Indian Band got to experience just that in a mock accident scene on Friday in which a car was dropped 100-feet from a crane. Osoyoos Indian Band Youth Group member Jordan Bower holds a drivers license and said the exercise had an immense impact on her.
“It has a really big impact. I am really more aware of how dangerous it is and how big the situation is. So much can happen in just a matter of seconds and it is really important to wear your seatbelt, not drink and drive or even get into a vehicle with anyone that is drinking and driving,” said the 18-year-old.
Const. A.J. Rodrigues of the South Okanagan Traffic Services said last year there was 72 collisions due to distracted driving in this district. She said it is not just impaired drivers the RCMP in the Okanagan are looking for, they now have two drug recognition experts and have cracked down on drivers who they believe are impaired due to illegal or prescription drugs. While students easily rattled off reasons for distracted driving such as texting, talking on the phone or with passengers in the car instead of watching the road, the constables noted one they missed.
“When you have a late night and were at a nice party and think you are sober and can drive home, did you know that you are still impaired because you don’t have enough sleep and your judgement drops,” she said.
Forensic Collision deconstructionist Cpl. Dwayne Breitkreutz explained to the students after the car drop demonstration what his role is at the scene of an accident as the firefighters used the jaws of life to cut the roof off the vehicle and paramedics attended to the victim, a mannequin.
“I have been to a lot of fatal accidents because it is my job,” said Breitkreutz. “At the accidents I can tell you that 65 to 80 per cent of the people would be alive today if they were wearing their seat belts.”
Oliver fire chief Dan Skaros said the exercise was to reinforce the message of save driving habits and to give emergency personnel a training exercise where they can use the tools that save lives by re-creating an accident scene.
“(They) said we are not trying to scare you, but we actually are. Wear your seat belts, don’t drink and drive. It is nasty when we come to a scene and there are people in a car,” said Skaros. “Nobody likes to see that and we sure don’t like to see kids in cars that have been in accidents.”