Texting and driving is not only illegal. It’s deadly.
That message was drilled home May 11, when firefighters, paramedics, and Health Centre staff joined Houston high school students in a mock crash on Mountain View Road.
Ben Riley, a Houston firefighter who helped organize the event, says while the dangers of drinking and driving are well known, texting and driving is a growing hazard.
“It’s becoming a problem,” he said.
“You can stand on a street corner and count the number of people driving with a phone in their hands.”
In the mock crash, three students were driving down Mountain View Road when one reached over the back seat to show a text message to the driver, sending them veering into a pair of pedestrians on the sidewalk.
“We wanted to make it as real as possible,” said Riley, noting that emergency crews followed all standard protocols as the “victims” were taken from the crashed car using jaws of life and taken by ambulance to a mock emergency room at the Seniors Centre.
Watching it all unfold were dozens of Grade 10, 11, and 12 students from both Houston high schools.
Riley said make-up by Houston Secondary teacher Pat Box, a former paramedic, added a realistic look to the drama of the mock crash.
“We’ve never even practiced like that, since I’ve been on the department,” Riley said.
“She had good facial injuries and broken bones. You didn’t have to pretend that we were dealing with an injury.”
In real life, Riley said the injury goes beyond what you can see—victims and their families can carry emotional damage for years.
B.C.’s distracted driving law prohibits drivers from talking on a hand-held phone or using an electronic device.
Estimates show distracted driving is associated with about 117 deaths a year in B.C. and about 1,400 hospitalizations.