Alexa’s Bus is cruising B.C.’s north this season to remind students the consequences of drinking and driving.
Stopping by Nechako Valley Secondary in Vanderhoof on Feb. 2, the RCMP’s purple Mobile Road Safety Unit is named after four-year-old Alexa Renee Middelaer, who was killed by an impaired driver in Delta when she was feeding a horse at the side of the road in 2008.
The Middelaers launched a fundraising campaign in 2011 to purchase a mobile impaired driving enforcement unit, which is now used by B.C. police forces as an educational and enforcement unit for drinking and driving. Purple was Alexa’s favourite colour.
Speaking with students from grades 10 to 12 throughout the day, Cst. Brian Davis walked them through the impaired driving investigation process — from requesting a driver’s license and then a breath sample through the Intoximeter, to potential arrest and the proceeding financial and social costs to criminal charges.
“So many things happen when you have a criminal record; you might not be able to travel or get a job, and without a license, you can’t give your date a ride,” Davis said. “Worst case scenario is, [the victim] can be your sister, and for the rest of your life, this is who you killed.
“Don’t be that person, or be the receiving end of it.”
Open bottles of alcohol also cannot be stored within the reach of a passenger or a driver in a vehicle; the driver would be fined, Davis added.
Grade 12 student Ian Douglas will be taking his Novice Driver test soon and finds the Alexa’s Bus a good way to raise awareness, he said.
He recalled an incident with his family on an highway towards Alberta, when a drunk driver went across the road and almost ran into five cars in the opposite lane.
His main takeway from the talk was the major consequences of drunk driving.
“Lots of people shrug it off,” Douglas said. “It can take lives of ppl who have or can do great things.”
The Mobile Road Safety Unit contains all equipment required for the police to process impaired drivers at roadside locations, including three computer workstations for immediate filing of reports, two private rooms for suspected impaired drivers to contact legal counsel during investigations, and five television screens for outreach events.