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P.E.I. students moved by powerful anti-impaired driving presentation

Bailey Anderson, 18, of Cornwall was among the hundreds of students that watched a powerful anti-impaired driving program Wednesday at Bluefield High School. Bailey says he never has - and he never will - drive while being impaired.
Bailey Anderson, 18, of Cornwall was among the hundreds of students that watched a powerful anti-impaired driving program Wednesday at Bluefield High School. Bailey says he never has - and he never will - drive while being impaired. - Jim Day

Jordan Gillis knew it was a bad idea to get into the car.

The person offering to drive Jordan, 15, of Fredericton home had been smoking pot – plenty enough to impair his ability to drive safely.

Jordan could simply have turned down the ride. He did not.

The drive home took five or 10 minutes, Jordan recalls.

And how well did the impaired driver drive?

“I didn’t think too good, actually,’’ says Jordan.

Yet Jordan got home in one piece.

For that, he feels lucky.

For taking the unnecessary risk, he feels foolish.

After watching a powerful anti-impaired driving presentation by MADD Canada Wednesday, along with hundreds of fellow students at Bluefield High School, Jordan feels even luckier for having dodged a mishap or tragedy by accepting a ride from a stoned driver.

And he feels more foolish now.

The bulk – and thrust – of the presentation was delivered through a screening of a film called The Pact. In the film, friends of a female student killed in an impaired driving crash (the driver was high from smoking marijuana) vow to build something positive from the tragedy. They make a pact never to drive impaired.

The film resonated with Jordan.

The message, he says, is clear.

“To not drink and drive or do drugs and drive – do the right thing to try to prevent it,’’ he says.

Jordan says he is looking forward to the “freedom’’ of being able to drive when he turns 16.

He also is making a pact to be a sober driver.

Bailey Anderson, 18, of Cornwall was also moved by the film.

He says The Pact illustrates well just how much devastation can result from a person getting behind the wheel while impaired.

“You’re not expecting it either and it just happens all of a sudden and then someone that you love is gone,’’ he says.

“It can just tear people apart.’’

Bailey, who drives to school, to work and to his hockey games, says he has never driven drunk. Nor has he been a passenger in a vehicle driven by an impaired driver.

Wednesday’s presentation only reinforces his belief that he should – and can – make the sensible and correct decision when it comes to driving.

“I think I will definitely be able to make the good choice,’’ he says.

“I never drive drunk. If someone else is drunk and they want to drive my car, definitely not.’’

Bailey says he would also give a drunk person a ride rather than allow that person to drive.

He thinks students who drive while impaired foolishly believe they are invincible.

“I feel like they just want to prove that they can do it, but they can’t,’’ he says.

MADD Canada National President Patricia Hynes-Coates has been strongly pushing the sober driving message since her son Nicholas Terrance Coates was struck and killed by a drunk driver in 2013.

She told Bluefield students the loss of her son was “so senseless’’ and her son is gone because a person made a “selfish choice’’ to drive.

She is urging students to be “the agents of change…and hopefully we will not have a problem in the future with impaired driving.’’

MADD Canada and the P.E.I. Liquor Control Commission are teaming up to deliver the assembly program in 20 schools across the province.

To learn more about MADD Canada and its school assembly program, visit www.madd.ca.

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