Just before dismissing several hundred Walker High students for Spring Break, local police staged a mock car crash in an effort to teach an incredibly important lesson about safety. As students were still in class they heard a loud crash over the loudspeaker. Going outside, the students saw two carloads of their classmates in a serious wreck.
A report on Baton Rouge’s WAFB Channel 9, described the scene:
Staged beside the cemetery, the side road next to the high school was blocked off. Smoke billowed from behind the cars, screams from friends and police sirens filled the air. From the looks on the student’s faces, it got their attention
The scenario of the mock crash involved high school students headed to the beach for spring break. One of the drivers is arrested for driving under the influence and the other is killed. Two other students are killed by the impact of the crash while several more are severely hurt and one dies on the way to the hospital. Students watched as the reality of a traumatic car wreck was played out right in front of them.
This was the first time the Walker police used such a dramatic means of getting their point across. The goal was to get students to commit to making safe choices by showing them that their actions truly do have severe consequences.
While the tragic consequences of choosing to drive while impaired were made clear to the students of Walker High, the mock accident left out one consequence that can also be both traumatic and far reaching. Financial repercussions.
In Louisiana, the party at fault for a car accident is financially obligated to pay for all of the damages caused by the accident. Fault typically requires a showing of negligence, or that the driver’s standard of care fell below what is reasonable under the circumstances.
This means that if a teenager gets behind the wheel and causes an accident that kills or hurts someone else (or many others) they could be forced to pay a variety of damages. Such damages may include medical expenses, lost wages, loss of companionship, or pain and suffering. If they were driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, they could be responsible for punitive damages as well. Punitive damages are those meant to punish the party at fault for an accident and are recoverable against intoxicated drivers under Louisiana Civl Code Article 2315.4 .
Teenage drivers are not the only ones who have to pay for their bad choices after a car accident. If a teen was driving their parents’ car with permission the parents may also be forced to pay damages to injured parties under the theory that the owner of a car is in control of the car’s use. Damages recovered from parents can escalate quickly because they are often based on the parents’ ability to pay.
Teenage driving can be very dangerous. Each year over 5,000 teens die in car accidents and 400,000 are seriously injured. In addition, the financial consequences of the bad choices of teen drivers can be life changing for both the teens and their families. Teens and their parents should use demonstrations like Walker High’s as an opportunity to talk about the dangers of impaired driving and incredible importance of making the decision to always drive safely before tragedy occurs.