Mock Car Crash

The Mock Car Crash is a traditional activity for SADD chapters, dating back to the earliest days of the organization. But today research shows such "scare tactics” have only a very brief and limited impact on behavior. Mock car crashes do have some other benefits – they build relationships with law enforcement and emergency responders (who might use the simulation as important training); they are high-visibility within the school, helping call attention to the chapter; and the media likes the dramatic visuals, so it’s often easy to get good media coverage, which can lead to donations and other relationships with the community at large.

Because the impact of a mock car crash is brief – no more than a day or two of behavior change can be shown in research studies – it’s important that if you do choose to do a mock car crash, you do it as close as possible to a high-risk time for impaired driving and underage drinking, such as prom or homecoming. The issues of underage drinking and impaired driving should be approached with a comprehensive education and prevention plan, of which the mock car crash should be one small part. SADD offers other evidence-based programs that are more likely to lead to behavior change.

This demonstration requires help from your school administrators and local fire and police departments and hospital. Through the combined efforts of these agencies and services, the mock crash demonstration will simulate the arrest, rescue, and medical transport of the injured students and the deaths of others.

The demonstration is divided into two distinct segments: 1) the crash and rescue and 2) comments from the people who performed the emergency services.

The crash and rescue portion should be as realistic as possible. The police (with sirens) should be the first on the scene, followed by EMS, rescue truck, and fire department. The "Jaws of Life" and/or medical air units might then be used. Injured students are removed from the cars, the driver is given a sobriety test, and the dead students left for the coroner, who pronounces them dead and ships them off in body bags.

Some of the most emotional moments of the event will be the comments from the participants: the medic who attends to the injured victims and a police officer who gives a chilling account of breaking the bad news to parents and loved ones who were waiting for their children to come home.

Setting Up The Event:

Participants – Successful dramatizations have the support of the entire community, starting with the school administration and including as many local volunteers as possible. Try to obtain community support early. The expertise and real-life experience of police officers and medical staff members will be invaluable.

Student Volunteers – Student volunteers are crucial to getting the message across. The student body will relate better to participants who are well-known in the school. Participating students need not be cheerleaders or sports stars, but they should be recognizable to their classmates.

Communication – Setting up a dramatization requires a great deal of time and communication. Letters to volunteers, follow-up calls, and thank you notes are all part of the process for a successful event. Make a list of everyone who needs to be contacted at every stage of the event.

Planning the Event – Determine the scope of the presentation with input from all participating groups. Discuss all of the elements associated with a crash, from the responding squad cars and EMS vehicles to flight medics and other special units. Creating a time line might be helpful. Remember that mock crash demonstrations don’t necessarily need to be large, just realistic.

Location and Time – Choose the location at your school that best meets your needs, and don’t forget to consider time constraints.

Setting the Date – Plan your demonstration to take place a week or two before a special event such as homecoming, prom, graduation, or other special event. Set a rain date.

Securing the Equipment – A local junkyard is an excellent source of cars for this demonstration. Talk with the manager early about obtaining a couple of cars and preparing them for the event. Be sure to have the fuel tank, battery, and oil fluids removed. Make sure any cars used in this event do not have a connection with your community; taking this step will avoid upsetting anyone in your community who has already endured a real crash.

What to Do

  1. Set up the wrecked car. Arrange victims to give the appearance of their having been struck by an impaired driver. Use fake blood to intensify the effect.
  2. Have policemen and paramedics demonstrate what happens when they arrive on the scene after an impaired driving crash. Ask them to arrest the impaired driver and strap the victims to a backboard or pronounce them dead and cover them with
    a sheet.
  3. Discuss the event. Elicit comments from the people who performed the emergency services, friends and family of the "deceased," and participants who witnessed the event.

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