Driving under the influence drills have been happening in the Bellevue area for more than 20 years — alerting teens to the horrors and real consequences that could come from driving while drinking.
The latest drill happened right before Memorial Day weekend at Newport High School.
Beginning at 9:30 a.m. on May 24, responders from Bellevue Police, Washington State Patrol, fire engines and ambulances drew the attention of students. Five fire units responded and at least three police vehicles.
The scenario included the wreckage of two cars, after a head-on collision between two groups of teens. The driver of the suspect vehicle is arrested and student witnesses give accounts to what they saw. There were screams and cries. Some of the students pretended to be dead at the scene.
For more than a month, students — typically those in drama and theater — practiced their acting skills before getting in full face and body makeup.
“It’s a full response and takes a lot of effort, timing and planning,” said spokesperson Meeghan Black, with the Bellevue Police Department. “We really want to impress upon students that one bad choice and this could happen to you or your friends.”
The drills are planned to happen twice a year, circulating through the high schools so each senior that graduates will have seen the drill.
Lately, the drills have included a focus on both DUI and distracted driving. The majority of fatal crashes that involve teen drivers are caused by distracted driving.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2015 there were 3,477 people killed and 391,000 injured in crashes that involved distracted drivers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that for teens, the fatal crash rate is three times greater than drivers over the age of 20.
Following the demonstration, a discussion was given by a group typically involved when similar accidents happen. The discussion was led by Bellevue city prosecutor Steve Penner, Bellevue firefighter Michael Tobin, Seth Tyler of Bellevue PD and Rick Johnson with state patrol.