By Suzanne Coolen
A serious car accident occurred today in front of the main entrance of the Kente building at Loyalist College.
But no worries, this was a mock crash, which was made up to closely resemble a real accident. The purpose was to leave students with some valuable lessons.
The goal of the extrication scenario was to outline the potential consequences of distracted and impaired driving and to give students a picture of what it would be like to be in a vehicle crash. The scenario walked students step by step through the scene of an impaired driving accident.
Advertising around campus was kept to a minimum, as organizers wanted the event to have an element of surprise and for the accident to be as close to reality as possible. By the shocked looks on spectators’ faces, organizers were successful.
Loyalist’s Alcohol & Related Risk Committee hosted the exercise. “We are not doing this to scare anybody but to inform everyone that for every action in life,there is an impact good or bad,” said Camille Parent, programming assistant for the residence at Loyalist.
Police, firefighters and EMS services from Belleville participated in the event and provided detailed commentary on the roles they play in a scene of an accident. The realistic actors were Loyalist students.
Students were given copies of Canada’s Low Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines and Check Your Drinking Quinte cards. These resources are designed to help youth make smart choices when it comes to drinking.
Unintentional injury is the number one cause of death for Canadian teenagers. These injuries are usually caused by alcohol impairment and by distracted driving.
While the law in Ontario on hand-held devices while driving took effect on Oct 26, 2009, the message still doesn’t seem to be getting across.
Belleville’s Deputy Chief Paul Vandegraaf said surprisingly, the issue of distracted driving is still pretty prevalent in Belleville.
“The issue of driving while distracted is something that even with all the enforcement and with all the awareness it is still something that if you were to stand at any street corner you would see people driving while on cell phones, programming GPSs, and eating their lunch.”
In the first week of September, Belleville police charged 50 drivers with cell phone infractions.
The MTO and the OPP both have current campaigns concerning distracted driving. While Loyalist College doesn’t have a Distracted Driving campaign they do have a drinking and driving awareness program, with several measures in place to ensure students make it home safely after a night out at the school pub. This includes a designated driver policy and an agreement with a local cab company that will drive intoxicated students home.
The pub also employs two hired police officers at each event for added safety and to make sure no one drives under the influence.
Today’s event was purposely held hours before pub night in hopes that the message would stick in students’ minds and help them to make wise choices.