That’s the message officials from Ridgefield High School and the police and fire departments would like students to take away from the mock car crash they are setting up on lower Ridgebury Road tomorrow, Wednesday, May 22, at 9 a.m.
“Just Drive” is also the banner in which the high school will use to host its week-long program to draw attention to the dangers associated with distracted driving in any form — be it via texting or driving while under the influence of substances.
“Students will be encouraged to be mindful about their habits as drivers and about the potential of serving as an empowered bystander,” said Emily Kilbourn, coordinator of the student life office at RHS. “The combination of these forces we hope will result in fewer accidents caused by distracted driving.”
The program is being sponsored and organized by the Youth-to-Youth group on campus.
Youth-to-Youth is a club whose members oppose substance abuse and focus on education, environmental change, personal growth, and drug free, fun alternatives to substance abuse.
“The mock car crash program is in keeping with the Youth-to-Youth’s mission and is part of the high school’s commitment to host this event every four to five years,” Ms. Kilbourn.
RHS hosted a mock crash in April of 2008.
Ms. Kilbourn said she hopes the timing of the program will have an impact on high school students with major events, such as junior and senior proms, coming up on June 1 and June 7, respectively.
“Although the majority of seniors will be out on internships at the time, it is our hope that the impact extends beyond those who actually witness the event,” she said.
On Wednesday morning, students and staff will leave the building when they hear a pre-recorded 911 call played over the P.A. system.
They will witness the immediate aftermath of an accident where two cars have collided.
In the cars will be student actors and one will portray a deceased student, Ms. Kilbourn confirmed.
She added that props at the scene will demonstrate either alcohol or texting or both factored into the accident.
The event is also being sponsored by the police and fire departments, members of the student government and the theater arts classes at the high school.
“Rescue crews — fire and police — will respond to the scene and fire and rescue will perform an extrication,” Ms. Kilbourn said. “Actors will be made up to illustrate the kinds of injuries that might result from such an accident.”
Fire Chief Heather Burford urges community members to avoid using lower Ridgebury Road that morning from 8:30 to 10. “If you can avoid driving near this area or find another path of travel, please do,” she said.
In addition to Ridgebury Road, there should be expected detours and delays on North Salem Road, she said.
Chief Burford added that the fire department would be turning over one car to make the scene look “as realistic as possible.”
After the program, which will be about 45 minutes, students will participate in a related activity in advisory groups. The counseling staff will be available to serve the needs of students who may be affected by what they witness or hear during the mock car crash.
As for the rest of the week, Ms. Kilbourn said that the school is inviting the community at large to attend a program called “Survive the Drive,” which will take place in the RHS auditorium Wednesday night from 7 to 8.
Bob Green, the president and executive director of “Survive the Drive,” will encourage teen drivers to consider their vulnerability and to adopt safe driving attitudes, behavior and techniques.
Grand Prix New York, of Mount Kisco, is sponsoring the speech.
Other activities planned for the week include a distracted driving fair in the Student Center following the mock crash.
“Students will be invited to make pledges related to their individual stances on distracted driving — such as commitments never to text and drive or commitments that they will urge friends not to drink and drive,” Ms. Kilbourn said. “The idea would be to provide students with additional information and resources related to the prevention of distracted driving.”
Throughout the week, youth-to-youth will be giving away items to remind students not to drive distracted.
The week will conclude with a school-wide “solidarity day,” where students and staff will be encouraged to wear school colors in support of the school’s commitment against distracted driving.
The rain date for the mock car crash is Wednesday, May 29th, at 9 a.m.