MUKILTEO — Yellow barricade tape surrounds the crumpled remains of a blue Honda Civic on Harbour Pointe Boulevard at the corner by the fire station.
The grotesque car is a selfie magnet with a powerful message, even without the banner that reads: “Arrive Alive. Don’t Text & Drive.”
“It has caught a lot of attention,” Fire Chief Chris Alexander said.
The totaled car was used in a recent mock crash reality rally for seniors at Kamiak High School about the dangers of distracted driving.
Firefighters added some of the damage to the car, such as cutting off the roof.
“We show the students what would happen if the car is destroyed to show what the rescue tools look like and what it takes to get people out,” Alexander said. “We have some seniors who are mock patients who are moulaged and we treat them. And there’s a suspect who goes through a field sobriety.”
Mukilteo fire and police officials participate in the annual event.
“It gives me goosebumps how realistic it is,” Police Chief Cheol Kang said.
The mockup is followed by a school assembly about the dangers of distracted driving, which includes drinking, drugging and texting.
The Washington Traffic Safety Commission lists distracted driving as the cause of 30 percent of statewide traffic fatalities. It is the cause of about one-fourth of all serious injury collisions in Washington.
“It’s amazing the number of people you see holding the phone up while driving,” Kang said.
“It’s that split second where your attention is distracted that has potential to cause an accident, just as severe as those who are driving under the influence.”
In 2018, Washington State Patrol pulled over more than 20,000 drivers for distracted driving, 3,000 more than the previous year. The penalty is $136 for the first offense.
“For us, distracted driving is a huge problem,” Alexander said. “It is related to a number of accidents that we run. We want to get the message out.”
He asked Braven Metals, the Lake Stevens auto recycler that provided the car for the school rally, if the city could borrow the car. Braven offered to tow the car to the site at no cost.
Alexander said the car offers a jolt of reality and reaches a wide audience on the busy thoroughfare.
“I was at the dentist office a week or so ago and the staff there were commenting on it and they could tell me what the message was on the banner,” he said. “Goal accomplished.”
The wrecked car will be on display until Thursday.
Just be sure to pull over before you snap a photo.