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Drunk drivers are killers, students told Teenage car deaths are greatest youth risk By Chris Woodall Photos of smashed cars and smashed victims inside them, then photos of the way the victims were before a drunk driver killed them: these are the images Whistler high school students saw Monday to persuade them not to drink and drive. Presented by former ambulance attendant Norbert Georget in the school gym, Grades 7-12 got a no-holds-barred look at the horrific results when a drinking driver takes to the road. The "tough love" message began with a lighter look at how drinking can affect performance when Sam Thiara of the Insurance Corporation of B.C. equipped two four-person teams with a basketball and a pair of goggles. One pair of goggles gave the wearer a sense of how badly someone sees when they have .08 milligrams of alcohol (the legal limit) in their blood. A second pair reduces the wearer’s vision to the equivalent of having .17 milligrams of alcohol in their blood system. In both cases, however, while walking a straight line guided by RCMP Const. Warren Tomalty and dribbling the basketball, or trying to pot the basketball in the hoop, neither team made a point, much less kept to the line. "There's a perception out there that other fatal risks — such as AIDS, homicide or suicide — are greater than dying in a car crash," Thiara told the students. "AIDS is a very important issue, but it's car accidents that are the highest risk to teens," he said, later providing statistics showing that a third of youth fatalities (those aged 13-15) are from car crashes. Fourteen per cent of youth fatalities are from suicide, while accidental poisoning, homicide and AIDS are far behind. "Don't get in a car with an impaired driver," Thiara warned. "Plan your events so you don't have an excuse. You have to think of the choices." Georget showed students what "lack of planning" can cause through his Ambulance Student Awareness Program of explicit photos taken from all over Canada and the United States. The program used to target senior high schoolers because they were the ones driving the vehicles, but Georget explained that younger grades are included for two reasons: they will soon be behind the wheel, and they are going to be passengers until then. The drunk driver may kill him or herself in an accident, but he or she may also chop short the life of passengers, Georget said. As shocking as the car crash photos were to young eyes, Georget was sensitive to their impressions. He cautioned them several times that what they were about to see was real and should be upsetting. "You're not supposed to like the pictures, that's the whole point," Georget told the students. "If we aren't shocked by what we are seeing, then there's something wrong with us." But it was okay to close your eyes. With Whistler and Pemberton high school graduations coming up, it's hoped students don't drink and drive — and won't climb in a car of someone who is drinking. "I want you to have fun, but know the risks of being with a drinking driver," Georget said. "I know I can't get across to all of you, but I gotta try," he said of his message: "We're not born winners, we're not born losers; we're born choosers."

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