Mock Car Crash Shows Dangers of Impaired, Distracted Driving - ABC FOX MONTANA NEWS, WEATHER, SPORTS - KTMF/KWYB

Mock Car Crash Shows Dangers of Impaired, Distracted Driving

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Law enforcement and emergency service agencies responded to a mock vehicle crash demonstration Tuesday afternoon at Loyola Sacred Heart football field.

The "Your Choice" event is part of a non-profit community project that promotes safe driving among Montana teens.

In 2011, 42% of all traffic fatalities involved an impaired driver, and 25% of those fatals involved a teen driver.  

The mock crash was meant to give students a real-life demonstration on just how dangerous impaired and distracted driving can be.

Hellgate High School junior Emma Wiese was one of about 1,500 teens who sat in the bleachers and watched as a group of their fellow students performed a deadly scenario.

"I'd be so scared, I wouldn't know what to do, I'd feel helpless… it'd just be horrible," Wiese said.

In the mock car crash, one teen -- who was not wearing her seatbelt -- died on impact after being ejected from the vehicle driven by a drunk driver.

Fire fighters used the "Jaws of Life" to pull out four other trapped students, who all sustained serious or life-threatening injuries.

"It's a reality check to actually… this is what could happen," Wiese said.

Emergency and law enforcement services, sheriff's coroners, tow companies and even funeral service members from Missoula responded to the scene as if it were a real vehicle crash.

"Everybody comes together as a collaborative effort, to put on this effort, and it's just absolutely incredible the amount of effort and work that goes into it," explained Missoula Co. Sheriff's Detective Paige Pavalone.

Pavalone said the demonstration shows how emotionally devastating fatal vehicle crashes can be for family, friends and community members.

"When the kids come in, they're kind of excited to see other kids, they just think it's fun to get out of school, but when they leave here, it's very somber, and it feels like it actually hit home for them," Pavalone said.

Pavalone said the "Your Choice" initiative is Missoula-based, but high schools across the state have programs focused on combating impaired and distracted driving among teens.

Wiese said she never uses her cell phone while driving, and after the demonstration, she says she's going to be more careful about distracted driving.

"I'm scared that something would happen, and it could change my life forever," Wiese said.

To learn more about efforts to combat impaired and distracted driving in Montana, click here.

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