NORWICH – Norwich High School juniors and seniors were warned of the perils of distracted and impaired driving on Monday as students, in collaboration with the Norwich City Police and Fire Department, staged a two-car accident on school grounds.
With prom season here and graduation right around the corner, the Norwich chapter of Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) said the goal of the mock crash is to send a clear message that encourages safe choices before getting behind the wheel.
“We have done this several times for the junior and senior class,” said Norwich Fire Chief Tracy Chawgo. Police and emergency crews performed the routine they would at a real life accident, including victim extraction, EMS transportation of “survivors,” and sobriety tests of the driver – all of which were parts role-played by student members of SADD.
Chawgo added, “We’re just trying to get the point across about the dangers of driving under the influence and texting and doing things that they shouldn’t do when they’re driving. We won’t reach everybody but if we get at least a couple who think about it, then I think we’re successful.”
Student members of SADD say the hope is to spread word of the consequences of distracted driving before students head out on the road during one of the most dangerous times of year. According to the Chenango County Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated (STOP-DWI), the spring season yielded the most alcohol related arrests in 2013, with 31 in March, 55 in April, and 30 in May.
“What we’re doing raises awareness of why drunk driving is a big danger and it gives a good message for the upcoming prom,” said SADD member Matt Burke.
“We stage this mock crash every couple years because we really want to bring awareness pre prom and pre graduation as to what the dangers of drinking and driving and alcohol use are,” said Kelly Collins-Colosi, Norwich School social worker and SADD advisor. “The sad reality is that May, June and July are the most dangerous months for teenagers in alcohol related deaths and we want to bring awareness to help students make safe choices if they can.”