“[I learned] That the choices I/we make in life have potential and possibly fatal outcomes that can send shockwaves through the lives of others..”
Victim Impact Panel
The Victim Impact Panel provides education and awareness to prevent car crashes and divert risky behavior on the road. The panel features speakers who have been directly impacted by a car crash caused by impaired and distracted driving. Speaking illustrates the real consequences of risky and ultimately preventable choices.
After completing a PBT test, participants complete self-assessment forms before and after the session to reflect on their personal behavior and develop safety strategies. Referred individuals are often involved in ongoing treatment or court requirements. The panel provides a reason to commit to safer choices and context for why the community places obligations on OWI offenders to change their behavior.
Applying Restorative Justice philosophies and using a harm reduction model, the Victim Impact Panel by SCV Restorative Justice addresses a spectrum of driving behaviors: Driving under the influence of alcohol, prescription medication or controlled substances, distracted driving and drowsy driving. The panel is used as an intensive intervention or a foundation for safety planning and positive behavior change.
Most individuals are referred as a requirement of their Intoxicated Driver Program assessment after receiving an OWI. Individuals may be referred by municipal or circuit courts, diversion or probation. Each panel audience completes self-assessments before and after the session, and everyone is welcome to follow-up with our speakers and staff directly after the panel for further interaction.
Panels are open to the community. In addition to individuals referred by local criminal justice and human service agencies, individuals driving or supporting a referred individual are allowed to attend the panel. Teens and local university students frequently attend panels. Some referred participants return for another panel with a friend or family member who they believe could benefit from hearing the speakers.
2017 Full Year Data
All data has been anonymously summarized from self-assessment forms completed at-will by session participants.
The main goal of Victim Impact Panels is to evidence the real consequences of car crashes. While the Victim Impact Panel has been a style used across the nation to address drinking and driving, SCV Restorative Justice applies a restorative approach to the panel model and speaking. Our speakers share their personal experience within a structured framework.
The panel is not a lecture; instead, participants hear each speaker’s restorative narrative. Individuals are asked what they will do differently moving forward, and the panel can lay the foundation for engagement in forming their safety plans. From data collected immediately after the session, 86.5% report that they will “definitely” change some aspect of their driving behavior as a result of attending the Victim Impact Panel.
Panels are open to the public. While most individuals are court-ordered or completing the panel as a part of their assessment or driver safety plan, there are other individuals involved in the panel. Community volunteers help with set-up, registration and clean-up. Local university students are welcome to attend. Parents may bring teens, or refer teens to the Traffic Violation session. There have been individuals who have attended the panel as a requirement who have returned with a friend or family member. If you would like more information on attending a panel, please call us at 715-425-1100, and ask about attending the panel as a community member.
Most individuals are referred to attend the Victim Impact Panel as a result of an OWI. While impaired driving is the predominant focus, this actually includes impairment from alcohol (86.8%), prescription medication and controlled substances (5.7%). Individuals may have other citations or charges in addition to an OWI offense; referrals may be made for distracted driving (<2%), refusal to take a PBT or sobriety test (3.4%), and other traffic violations (2.7%).
Positive Behavior Change
Car crashes are preventable. Attendees are asked to consider a spectrum of choices based on both their personal experience and what they hear from the speakers.
Panel attendees are asked to reflect on their personal driving behavior. The choices we make each day develop into habits, and these choices are all within a spectrum from safe to risky. Our choices directly relate to how prepared and attentive we are while driving. Each risky choice that we make heightens the potential of a car crash, where you or someone else may be injured or killed.
Drinking and driving is not the only concern. Individuals who are currently in sobriety can still assess their current habits or behaviors, and everyone can plan or recommit to improvements.
Car crashes caused by impairment or distractions are ultimately preventable. SCV Restorative Justice is committed to improving community safety by reducing the number and the severity of crashes in conjunction with other community efforts. The Victim Impact Panel and our group-dialogue sessions promote driver accountability and educated decision-making for drivers and passengers.
Everybody can make a difference by reducing risky behavior. Attendees are asked to plan ahead before alcohol or other substances can impair their judgment. SCVRJ speakers share a unique Restorative Narrative, addressing multiple subjects within their own story, including but not limited to:
- Seatbelt use
- Distracted driving
- Visual (eyes), manual (hands), cognitive (thoughts)
- Impaired driving
- Prescription medications
- Controlled substances
- Passenger safety and restrictions
- Night driving
- Anger and road rage
- Motorcycle safety
- Pedestrian and bicycle safety
- Fixed objects and wildlife
The Victim Impact Panel is a piece of community efforts to prevent car crashes and traffic fatalities. Using a whole-community approach with prevention and intervention services, communities in the St. Croix Valley can collectively make a difference.
“I found that the choice you make in life has severe consequences! From drinking to driving to distracted driving in one instance your life and loved ones will change.”
Participant, July 2017Reported after completing the session
“I was lucky. Poor decisions I’ve made in the past could have been a lot worse and made me want to change my habits.”
Participant, April 2017Reported after completing the session
“One speaker taught me the deep, deep grief and life changing impact that resulted from an avoidable choice. From the other speaker – acceptance, forgiveness.”