On Wednesday, the senior class of my high school was brought into the cafeteria for an assembly hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or M.A.D.D. They host this at various high schools across Canada every year from September to June. This presentation reminds us the dangers of driving while impaired. Since prom season is coming up, it seemed like a suitable time for the presentation.
Did you know that fatalities from impaired driving increase around prom season? It makes sense, because many students go to after-parties or prom cottages for further celebration, and these events usually involve drinking. Motor vehicle crashes are actually the leading cause of death among 15 to 25 year olds, and alcohol is a factor in 50% of those crashes. Celebration around prom season can be handled responsibly, one way being not to get behind the wheel drunk, or get into a car whose driver has drank.
MADD Canada’s School Assembly Program is an on-screen fictional re-enactment of the trauma that can result when someone makes the choice to take drugs or alcohol and get behind the wheel. M.A.D.D. produces a new program every year in order to ensure that the content is current and relevant to the students. This year’s presentation is called Smashed. The presentation began with a short speech from a field representative from M.A.D.D, who including the statistics and facts of youth and impaired driving. He told us that four people die every day due to drinking and driving, and 174 people are injured. These facts alone shocked me. He then led into the dramatized video to represent a scenario of impaired driving.
The video begins with two teenage girls named Kelly and Natalie getting ready for a school dance. They pick up another friend, Pete, on their way to school. Natalie, having a huge crush on a boy named Johnny, is excited when she sees him there. Johnny had been drinking and then invites the three friends to a house party he’s going to. Kelly and Pete don’t want to go, but they do because Natalie is so persistent. When they arrive, teens are already drinking and smoking, with one boy even passed out in the front lawn.
Johnny persuades Natalie to drink to the point where she’s lost all control, even though Pete and Kelly insist she’s had enough and beg her to go home with them. Johnny leaves the party to pick up some pot, and despite the frantic efforts of her friends, Natalie makes the terrible decision to get in the car with Johnny behind the wheel. Kelly calls 911 to report a drunk driver, then gets into her car along with Pete to follow Johnny and Natalie. What happens next is something no one expected to happen that night, but was expected in general because Johnny was drunk. Natalie was the only one of the four teens who survived the crash.
It was a very visual and emotional video that made me think ‘things like this really do happen.’ People who have drank actually get behind the wheel. It’s not fair for people like Kelly and Pete to suffer because of Natalie and Johnny’s mistake.
The presentation then included interviews with people who have lost loved ones as a result of impaired driving, or have been injured themselves. We heard from people whose lives have changed because of a foolish decision someone else made. It’s not fair. At this point in the presentation, I couldn’t hold back my tears, because I couldn’t think of something like that ever happening to me or someone in my life. It definitely presented a message that students won’t forget. My classmates were taking about it for the rest of the day.
The field representative wrapped up the presentation, summarizing the dangers of impaired driving, and leaning the students with a positive message. Don’t make the wrong decision by getting behind the wheel impaired or getting into a car with an impaired driver. Your life and the lives of others can change in a matter of seconds. For all the seniors who are graduating this June, and are soon celebrating on prom night, make the right choice by celebrating responsibly. Always plan ahead and stay safe.
You can watch a summary of Smashed here
For other awareness campaigns through advertisements, click here
Click here to read tips for parents to ensure a safe prom