As exam preparation is in full swing, and summer draws near, this also means the beginning of endless checkstops, long weekends and unfortunately, more accidents on the road due to impaired driving.
Over the summer months especially, the RCMP and police services around Manitoba team up to try to get impaired drivers off the road and make it safer for everyone. École secondaire Neelin High School’s TADD (Teens Against Drunk Driving) group has the same intentions, and as the school year comes to a close, we are busy trying to achieve that goal.
In Canada, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among 16- to 25-year-olds, and alcohol and/or drugs are a factor in 55 per cent of those crashes. Despite there being strict laws against driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol across Canada, that does not change the statistics.
It is also proven that young impaired drivers are more likely to be killed or injured in the summer than in the winter, which puts authorities on high alert when the weather warms up and school gets let out. Neelin’s TADD group is aware of these shocking stats and throughout the school year tries to bring awareness to the students and prevent impaired and distracted driving. One of the main goals of a TADD group is to change those statistics and make everyone aware of what a real issue impaired driving is within our own province.
Last year before the May long weekend, TADD held a “mock car crash” in the school parking lot for staff and students to watch. The message was clear: drinking and driving do not go hand in hand.
The mock car crash highlighted the aftermath of an impaired driving-related crash between two students, one who was sober and the drunk driver who had a passenger in the back not wearing a seatbelt (who “died”). We were able to arrange for an ambulance and police cars to arrive during the presentation for the school, and our school audience got to see first-hand the procedure of the drunk driver being questioned and handcuffed. The impact was real and shocking, and it hit close to home for a lot of people.
This year, TADD is not doing anything quite as extreme as conducting a fake car crash, but merely finding ways to get the message of not drinking and driving out there to the staff and students of Neelin. Some of these ideas include awareness weeks, “Don’t drink and drive” posters and television advertisements for the school, and school trivia on impaired driving facts. However, it is not only young adults who need the message. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol can affect anyone even if you’re not the one who is impaired. It is an issue that needs to be addressed by all, not just within high schools.
As exciting as it is that the weather is getting warmer, and for many this means summer vacation, it is essential to remember that our actions have consequences and the outcome is not always a good one.
Neelin’s TADD group works hard throughout the year in the hopes of showing the importance of safe driving year round, and to come up with creative ways to do so. Summer is a time to celebrate and relax, but it is possible to do so without putting yourself or others in danger by reckless driving.
So next time you or somebody you know goes to grab the keys after a few drinks, remember that is not only putting yourself and others at risk, but it is also contributing to another bad statistic that many people work hard to get rid of.
» Taylor Foxon is a Grade 11 student at École secondaire Neelin High School.