• Jules-Pierre Malartre

Annual accident simulation drives home important lesson


PHOTO BY JULES-PIERRE MALARTRE

The simulation of the aftermath of a serious accident was the lesson given to Rigaud’s Collège Bourget students May 29 in the school’s third annual awareness campaign on alcohol related and distracted-driving related consequences.

Collège Bourget held its third annual driving accident simulation event May 29 to increase awareness of the dangers of impaired driving among its student body. The event was organized by teachers and students in cooperation with the Club Optimiste Rigaud, the Rigaud Fire Department, the Sûreté du Québec (SQ) and local emergency response teams. Awareness is a significant factor in the fight against alcohol and distraction-related road accidents, and while the SAAQ and other interest groups have launched a number of public awareness campaigns over the years, Collège Bourget’s graphic re-enactments deliver a powerful message.

The event is an effective simulation of the aftermath of a collision and a skit performed by students that sets the stage for the bad decisions and behaviors leading to the accident. The Bourget campaign is enacted by full-time students and faculty members investing an extensive amount of time to put together the event in the middle of their busy study and exam-filled year-end period. The cooperation of the local emergency response groups added the element of reality, the sensation of actually witnessing the emotional aftermath of a fatal car accident. The presentation is effective, eliciting a moving and gut-wrenching reaction from the attendees.

While it’s difficult to assess how many road accidents are caused by texting and other distractions, experts affirm accidents caused by such interferences are on the rise, competing with alcohol and speeding as the main causes of road accidents in Quebec. According to statistics published by the Société de l’assurance automobile du Québec (SAAQ), alcohol-related car accidents cause on average 160 deaths, 370 serious injuries and 1900 minor injuries every year in Quebec. Between 2009 and 2013, 36 per cent of drivers having died behind the wheel had a blood alcohol level higher than the legal limit of 80 mg per 100 ml. In 2013, 41 per cent of drivers who died in a car accident had consumed alcohol, and the majority had a blood alcohol level higher than 150 mg per 100 ml (0.15).

In Quebec, the costs of indemnifying victims of road accidents are estimated at $90 million per year. The collaboration of the municipality and local responder teams (fi re department, SQ and paramedic teams) as well as of the Club Optimiste is also commendable. Rigaud is a trend-setting municipality in this regard in the region, and the message is spreading; representatives from other schools interested in implanting a similar program in their institutions were also in attendance. Other municipalities and schools are already offering similar presentations, but how effective are they? According to Captain Patrick Michaud of the Rigaud Fire Department, the statistics are encouraging.

Michaud, who has been called onsite to a fair number of roadside accidents over the course of his career, feels that the number of accidents caused by impaired driving is dropping.

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