Students at various Phoenix high schools were witnesses to horrifying fatal car crashes caused by impaired driving.
These crashes were not real, but put on by the Phoenix Fire Department in an attempt to decrease the rate of actual automobile crash fatalities.
According to the Center of Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death for U.S. teens. The risk of car crashes for 16-to 19-year-olds is higher than any other age group.
The Phoenix Fire Department has partnered with several other government agencies, including the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, the Phoenix Police Department and the Maricopa County Medical Examiner, to present mock car crashes to Phoenix high school students in order to prevent underage drinking and driving.
Kelly Liebermann, Community Education Specialist for the Phoenix Fire Department, said the mock accidents go extremely in-depth, covering everything from the initial crash scene and administration of a field sobriety test to the victim’s family being notified of his or her death.
Experts of every aspect of the crash and investigation speak to students about the impact of drinking and driving.
The dramatization can be so intense that counselors and social workers from each school are on scene to talk to students that become uncomfortable.
The program has been in place for three years; there were similar setups in the past, but none that went as in-depth as this one.
The program is presented at five high schools each year. This year’s group, starting Jan. 15, included Alhambra High School, Thunderbird High School and Trevor Browne High School.
The Governor’s Office of Highway Safety provides the funding for the Phoenix Fire Department to put on these mock crashes.
The fire department also works with the organization Students Against Destructive Decisions and local hospitals like St. Luke’s Medical Center.
The main goal of the program is to show students that drinking and driving isn’t worth the potential consequences. He said often teenagers will drive impaired with no problem, which leads them to believe they can get away with it.
This program is aimed at changing that belief.
“It’s all about prevention and saving lives,” Liebermann said.