Police cars, ambulances and fire trucks all surrounded the gruesome scene: a head-on car crash. People were trapped inside both cars, screaming for help, while one young man wriggled free and yelled out to his friends asking them why they let him drive drunk. The accident scene was really a mock-up on a New Jersey high school football field, staged as part of an annual drunk-driving simulation viewed by seniors preparing for their prom.
Motor vehicle accidents are the number one cause of death for teens ages 15 to 19, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The numbers fluctuate, but since 2005 more than 4,000 teens, on average, are killed in the U.S. every year in accidents and more than 350,000 are injured. Of the teens killed, roughly 30 percent were driving while impaired.
Demonstrations like the one in New Jersey are designed to show teens the carnage they can create by driving while impaired. Firemen held hoses in case of a fire while rescue personnel used the Jaws of Life to enter one of the cars and free trapped and injured passengers. When actors portraying parents arrived on the scene, another actor portraying a police officer told them that their child had been killed in the crash. The parents screamed in agony.
Off to the side, the teen who yelled out that he was driving drunk was taking a sobriety test, which he failed. Portrayed as a junior in the dramatization, he was charged not only with driving under the influence but also two counts of vehicular homicide. If found guilty, he would face a lengthy prison sentence of up to 20 years.