The dangers of distracted & impaired driving were being presented to Penhold Crossing Secondary School students in Grades 9-12 in the form of a driver simulation on February 28, 2023.

This first of its kind presentation was organized by Penhold Citizens on Patrol (COPA) in partnership with Community Peace Officers from Town of Penhold and Red Deer County, members of the Innisfail RCMP detachment, Alberta RCMP Traffic QEII members from Innisfail, Blackfalds and Rocky Mountain House as well as 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 her brief educational presentation before students started the distracted and impaired driving simulations. All students who attended the presentation had the opportunity to drive a pedal cart through a course sober and undistracted and then navigate the course again while texting and wearing Blood Alcohol (BAL) goggles to simulate impairment. Students also wore the BAL goggles and did a field sobriety test to better understand the impact of impairment.

RCMP Sgt. Cindee Scarrott, Alberta RCMP Traffic QEII Operations NCO and several other highway patrol officers were engaging with students throughout the presentation. “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 pro-active instead of being reactive,” said Safe Communities Central Alberta Coordinator Dianne Macaulay. “Teaching students to focus on why you shouldn’t text or drive impairednow to avoid an accident later,” she continued. “Drinking and driving and distracted driving are both 100% preventable.”

Penhold Crossing Secondary School Principal Clark Peters said, “We were so excited when Penhold's Citizens on Patrol group approached us with this initiative. We were planning to bring the Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) presentation on impaired driving to the school and this is the perfect follow up as it added distracted driving too. Our students had the opportunity to experience impaired or distracted driving in a safe environment to really bring home the message from the MADD and COPA presentations and also had the opportunity to interact with local police, peace officers and Penhold's COPA members. Hopefully this helps our youth make informed and knowledgeable decisions to stay safe as they progress through life.