Students hope mock accident drives message home with peers
A group of seniors at Quincy High School is prepared to show its peers that drunk driving is no joke.
On April 9, Ian Allen, Beulah Hope, Richard Vazquez and Orlando Cruz will stage a mock car accident outside of the high school on 6th Avenue Southeast, between F Street and Division.
“We got the idea from our health teacher Mrs. (Therese) Sawyer,” said Allen. “I am so happy I did it.”
In Washington, impaired drivers were a factor in 50 percent of all traffic deaths (704 of 1,406) and 21 percent of all serious injuries (1,519 of 7,264) between 2009 and 2011, according to a report by Target Zero, a state agency working to end traffic deaths and serious injuries in Washington by 2030. Drivers in fatal crashes are as likely to be impaired by drugs as by alcohol, the report states.
Just over half of people killed and seriously injured in impairment-related crashes are between 16 and 34 years old, according to Target Zero. On top of that, more than 61 percent of fatalities occur on rural roads, the report states.
The event is a senior project that has been months in the making. The seniors have had to rework their proposal three times, considering such issues as how the realistic accident could affect other people emotionally and how it would come across to students.
To make the accident as realistic as possible, students asked local public safety and emergency agencies to join in.
“My part was making the accident happen,” Vazquez said. “I contacted the fire department, police department and the hospital to have them help. The last time (the school) did this was in 2001. It is good for teens to see the reality of what can happen if you are drinking and driving.”
Assisting at the accident scene will be the Quincy Police Department, MedStar, Protection 1 ambulance service and Grant County Fire District No. 3.
The seniors also had to speak before the Quincy City Council after requesting permission to close the road during the mock accident.
Getting underway at about 12:30 p.m., the mock accident will involve two wrecked cars carrying eight passengers between them. It will take about a minute for emergency crews to respond and once there, the student actor posing as the “drunk driver” will be tested for alcohol.
At about 12:50 p.m. MedStar will land on the nearby field to take one of the victims into the helicopter.
After the accident, the following day, students involved in the mock accident will talk about their experience in a school-wide assembly.
Sawyer, who is also an EMT for Protection 1, said she hopes the event makes an impact on the students.
“I hope that this drunk-driving senior project helps Quincy High School students think a little bit about how serious drinking and driving can be,” she said.
— By Tammara Green, QVPR contributor