Sending a Message

SHPD aims to curb drunk driving with dramatic display


Eliot Call

The SHPD placed the car in front of the high school to warn students about the dangers of driving under the influence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, about 32 people in the United States die every day as a result of drunk driving.

A mangled wreck of a car greeted students and staff when they arrived Monday morning. 

“We put the car there on purpose to advertise against drunk driving,” a Shaker Heights Police Department dispatch operator said in an April 23 call to the department’s non-emergency number.

The car is located on the grass near the exit of the front parking lot, about 15 feet away from Laurel Road. For decades, schools around the country have displayed such vehicles annually when prom and graduation season arrives. SHHS prom will take place May 20, and commencement June 6.

Principal Eric Juli worked with the SHPD to set up an informational campaign. “So from 9:00 to 1:00 this week, in the North Gym, we are inviting classes to come down and learn about the dangers of drunk driving,” Juli said. 

Senior Liesel Prude, who plans to attend prom, said the display is a smart idea. “It really shows what can happen when you’re  driving under the influence,” Prude said. “It can hopefully inspire people to be more cautious.”

The accident, which did not involve drunk driving, ripped off the passenger side of the car. Eliot Call

SHPD Patrol Sgt. Greg Kerr was in charge of the operation. “I called the tow company and asked to have a car for pre-prom activity,” Kerr said. “The accident involved an 80-year-old man who went left of center and hit a pole, ripped off the side of the car, then hit a woman driving past.” Kerr said the accident did not involve drunk driving. 

On Thursday, the Shaker Heights Fire Department will use the Jaws of Life to demonstrate what is necessary to rescue someone from a car so heavily damaged. Attendance is optional. Juli encouraged teachers, especially teachers of seniors, to bring their students to the event. 

The police department also set up a simulation in the North Gym, where students can pedal and steer four-wheeled carts through a series of cones. At the end of the course, the driver puts on goggles that simulate driving under the influence and tries the course again.

The goal is to show how one poor decision can ruin the lives of family, friends, bystanders and other drivers. “There are so many options now: Uber, designated driver, calling a friend,” he said. “But it shows how families’ lives can be completely changed and ruined by a bad choice that someone makes.”

Said Kerr, “I’ve been here for 20 years, and we’ve never done this, but there’s no time like the present.”

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