Marc Garneau CI’s parking lot attracted a great deal of attention on 16 September, 2014, as students came to view the totaled car that had been placed on display. Courtesy of the Accident Awareness program and organized by Garneau’s club, Youth Against Drugs (YAD), the wrecked car was a portrayal of the impact and consequences of drinking and driving.
YAD, previously called Youth Against Drunk Driving, strives to increase awareness of the dangers of drinking and using drugs while driving. The goal of YAD and the Accident Awareness program is to enable students to understand and minimize the danger involved in driving, both as drivers and pedestrians.
Many students who walked by were not intrigued by the gruesome sight of the wrecked car, but rather by the picture of the young woman beside it. Only twenty-three years of age, the driver was a young woman traveling at the speed limit, without any alcohol in her system. Her car was hit by a speeding GMC Acadia driven by an impaired driver, which led to her death on impact. The display demonstrated how one small mistake can have irreversible consequences.
Arfana Mulla, a Grade 12 student who saw the display, was shaken. She said, “It kind of got me a little frightened. Looking at that car, I understand how as students, if we are not careful on the road, that could be us.”
Michael Ng, the junior president of YAD, emphasized the significance of the display. “We wanted this display to humanize the event. It’s hard for students to realize the impact of such a situation unless they see the real thing. Instead of faceless people whose stories we are told but who we don’t know, this car belonged to a girl near to our age. Having her picture there makes this so much more real, and really brings home the issue,” he said.
The display was provided by Accident Awareness, an organization that was born in 1993 in order to “educate the public to the horrors of fatalities and the grim aftermath that always accompanies these tragedies.” It was also supported by a digital media presentation consisting of “the fundamental aspects related directly to adolescents and dangerous driving,” conducted by Bob Annan, a retired police officer and founder of Accident Awareness.
Mr. Annan, who has organized the wrecked car display with Accident Awareness for the past twenty-one years, stressed the vitality of knowing the dangers of driving and of being on or near the road. “People – students – need to realize that you don’t have to be drinking to be involved. Collisions can happen anytime. You just have to be careful. Whether you’re the driver or the passenger, use all the safety features. Most importantly, wear a seat belt. Most accidents have turned fatal because people weren’t wearing seat belts. You don’t just endanger your own life, you threaten everyone else too.”