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Penhold high school students get a lesson on impaired driving

Students wore special goggles to mimic impairment or texted while driving pedal carts
Penhold Citizens on Patrol Association and RCMP from several central Alberta detachments hosted a demonstration of the dangers of impaired or distracted driving to Penhold Crossing Secondary School students on Tuesday. (Photo contributed)

Penhold Crossing Secondary School students got an eye-opening demonstration Tuesday of the potentially deadly consequences of impaired or distracted driving.

Grade 9-12 students drove a pedal cart through a course laid out in the school gym sober and without distractions. Then they were told to try the same route while texting on their cellphones or when wearing a set of blood alcohol level goggles that simulate the effects of impairment. Students also wore the goggles while doing a standard police field sobriety test.

The new initiative was organized by Penhold Citizens on Patrol Association (COPA) with help from peace officers from Penhold and Red Deer County and RCMP officers from Innisfail, Blackfalds and Rocky Mountain House and representatives from Safe Communities Central Alberta.

“It is our hope this positive engagement with students can bring awareness and also encourage safe driving habits so our community youth have the knowledge to make good choices,” said COPA president Teresa Cunningham.

“Distracted and impaired driving is kind of like sour milk, if you are questioning whether you should have it or not, just don’t,” Cunningham told students in a presentation before they got a chance to take the wheel of the pedal carts.

Alberta RCMP QE2 operations NCO Sgt. Cindee Scarrott and other highway patrol officers helped with the demonstration.

“We are teaching students about the dangers of impaired and distracted driving with the hopes of preventing a tragedy,” said Scarrott.

“We are here to be proactive instead of being reactive,” said Safe Communities Central Alberta co-ordinator Dianne Macaulay.

“Teaching students to focus on why you shouldn’t text or drive impaired now to avoid an accident later. Drinking and driving and distracted driving are both 100 per cent preventable.”

Penhold Crossing Secondary School principal Clark Peters said Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has also been invited to make a presentation at the school and the COPA initiative and its distracted driving component is a good addition.

“Hopefully this helps our youth make informed and knowledgeable decisions to stay safe as they progress through life,” said Peters.

For more information on Penhold Citizens on Patrol email

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